By Kathy Chouteau
Keyz 2 the Future launched at a Grand Opening event in Richmond on Saturday with the aim of providing mentorship for girls and young women who have been impacted by gun violence. The nonprofit, which held its event at Motivated 2 Help Others’ home on Harbour Way in Richmond, works with females between the ages of eight to 26.
“We teach them leadership skills, we teach them life skills. We introduce them to things that they wouldn’t normally be introduced to,” said Keyz 2 the Future’s Executive Director Keycha Gallon about their work in Richmond and Vallejo.
The nonprofit also aims to start traveling with those they serve “to let them see that there is a world outside of Richmond or outside of the community that they’re used to seeing,” said Gallon. She added that Keyz 2 the Future “Just [wants to] open them up to different opportunities.” Some of their goals will be accomplished by partnering with likeminded nonprofits such as Moms Demand Action and others.
“I just see so many little girls walking up and down the street or being a part of the fixed traffic ring and there’s nobody out there to really help them,” said Gallon about her partial motivation for starting the nonprofit.
Her other motivation for launching Keyz 2 the Future? Gallon intimately knows the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. In 1999, the former health industry employee’s brother, Ernest Neff, was killed due to gun violence, as were some of her cousins in Richmond.
Gallon said in the aftermath of these deaths, some of her younger relatives “really didn’t have anybody.” She said if you don’t have anybody, “What do you do? You look for love and you end up on the streets looking for love.”
Bolstered by their recent launch party, Keyz 2 the Future hopes to change that harsh reality for young girls and women. On Saturday afternoon, they had a turnout of about 20-25 people come out to support them and served up a Taco Bar. Gallon, a longtime community volunteer, said she spoke about the organization at the event, and they gave out brochures, COVID-19 kits and goodie bags with contents donated in part by Target Richmond.
Gallon works from home and plans to partner with Motivated 2 Help Others to host future Keyz 2 the Future events. She said the nonprofit’s entire Board of Directors has been impacted by gun violence in some way and welcomes girls and young women to contact them for services and anyone to donate their support by emailing [email protected] calling 510-694-1799 or visiting their website here.
“It takes a community to make a difference,” said Gallon.