Tell us about Bay Area Peacekeepers inc.
The Bay Area Peacekeepers inc. (BAP) is a nonprofit that was founded in 2005 to help promote peace and nonviolence in the community. In the mid-2000s, there was a lot of community violence – shootings, gang violence, and traumatic home-life. When the youth are able to see that there are positive alternatives to violence, it helps them build ownership and pride in their community, and therefore, respect.
What makes your organization different from others that work with kids?
Violence never stops – and the majority of youth programs before ours were after-school programs, so they didn’t run during the summers and on holidays. Thanks to funding from Chevron and others, the Bay Area Peacekeepers is a year-round program where 7th – 12th graders know they can come and escape from the violence in their lives both in and out of school.
What sort of activities do you offer the youth?
We work with about 400-500 kids throughout the year at school sites and the BAP Life Center, often seeing as many as 50 on a daily basis. Kids can do homework in our computer lab, play table games like foosball and ping pong or be around like-minded friends who want to make positive community contributions. We also help students transition from middle school to high school and then on to graduation.
What inspired you to do this work?
In 1991, my wife was driving in my car with my newborn and 1-year-old and our car was shot at. That was my turning point. I made a pact with God that I was going to start working with youth and trying to change their lives. It has been 25 years since that day and I have been working in the community trying to make a difference in young people’s lives ever since.
What has your experience been like working with Chevron?
There’s a stigma about working for Chevron, but the partnership is critical for our kids. They see all the good that the company is putting into the community, by funding programs like ours, creating jobs and helping others. My job is to help encourage them to understand that working for a stable company like Chevron is a great way to move up in life, purchase a home and stay in the community and help it grow.
What inspires you about Richmond?
Richmond is the heart-beat of the Bay Area, we are smack in the middle of everything – San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco. This is a community on the rise. We can really shine and show the Bay Area what a community can do when everyone comes together.