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Kevin's Huddle

March 2016

Failing Forward

When our youth see how we overcome obstacles, they will emulate our behavior, both good and bad. Over the years, we have heard from former residents that they learned how to work through difficult circumstances by watching our staff.

Recently, I’ve been reading a fantastic book called “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success” by John Maxwell. These leadership principles also apply to the kids we work with at KYJO. Here are some core concepts about how to make the most of our inevitable failures:

  • Take Personal Responsibility
  • Learn from Each Mistakes
  • Know Failure Is a Part of Progress
  • Maintain a Positive Attitude
  • Challenge Outdated Assumptions
  • Take New Risks
  • Persevere

To reach our full potential, we must face our flaws and accept that failure is part of personal growth. We want to teach our kids that change is possible if we look at obstacles differently. When the kids in our care are tempted to blame others, when they get discouraged or battle poor self-concept, we will encourage them to think differently. As they learn to believe in themselves and recognize that they can make different choices, real change begins to occur.

Show Me

Angel, a resident at KYJO, has shown his commitment to thinking differently. When he first arrived at KYJO, he asked me to give him a job. To which I replied, “You need to learn how to get a job yourself. In life, things aren't just handed to you” I went on to ask Angel, “Do you know how to get a job?”

Angel told me that he could get a job and that he was a hard worker. For a few months he still wanted things handed to him, but I continued to be firm with him and encourage him to work for what he wanted.
Well, to my amazement, Angel stopped asking and went searching. He is committed to finding a job on his own. He now works at a local car wash and is establishing a future here in Fresno. He learned the valuable lesson that if he wants something he has to get up and get it. But most importantly…he was committed to overcoming obstacles so that he can pursue his hopes and dreams. He learned how to fail forward because he approached what he wanted differently. Keep growing Angel because you have determination at your side!

These concepts apply to everyone in any, and all walks of life. At KYJO we are learning to work smarter and not harder. We will learn to practice these principles to surpass future obstacles demonstrating to the kids we serve that they are strong enough to do the same!

With your help, we will continue to capitalize on our strengths and overcome our obstacles. Teamwork has been defined as the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient. Thank you for standing with us as we continue moving forward to create the best environment to Keeping Our Youth Journeying Forward. Thank you to our board, sponsors, supporters and hardworking staff for your commitment!
Thank you for being committed, Team KYJO!

Strategic Plan

This is an exciting time at KYJO, and our outstanding new team is focusing on improving operational efficiency throughout the organization. We're excited about our new 5-year strategic plan. This plan is the guiding document for all KYJO team members. It lists our priorities, focuses our energy and resources, strengthens operations, and ensures that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals.

State Reform

With state reform coming down the pipeline for California Group Homes and Foster Family Agencies, we are currently restructuring our Agency Model to what's called Therapeutic Case Management Services (TCMS). This transition will improve processes, systems and programs improving the direct quality of care for KYJO youth.

 February 2016

Facing Our Fear

When working with the at-risk youth population, it's understandable that sometimes we (society) get discouraged when things don't go our way. We may want to give up and not face the brutal realities that are inherent in committing our time and resources to disadvantaged youth. We may want to blame others for the pain, we may be afraid to try new things for fear of failing, or we discover that we are afraid of responsibility. Why?The common denominator is fear. Fear can paralyze anyone, adults and kids alike. Left unchallenged, our fear can shackle us and keep us from becoming who we are destined to become. Those who learn to overcome turmoil and find the strength to face their fears have a greater chance of succeeding in this world.

You Can Overcome

Prior to coming to KYJO, many of our youth were never given tools to learn how to overcome difficult situations. They never experienced practical help from others who truly care. Without this guidance, many of youth get lost to the “system.” It’s our job, at KYJO, to ensure every child has hope! Not only hope, but also genuine care. As we help boost the confidence of our residents they learn they have much more potential than they ever dreamt possible. With this motivation,they defeat their biggest fear...the person in the mirror! Once this happens success follows.

One Small Success

One example of this recently occurred with a 15-year-old resident who had never applied himself in school or had the confidence to try sports. The best grade he ever received was a D. Of course, this led him to believe that he was nonathletic and dumb. And so, living a life of crime would be his only hope of survival for the future.

When he came to one of our group homes, he had the opportunity to choose differently and prove to himself that he could succeed in both school and sports. With constant motivation and caring feedback, he finally tried sports and discovered he’s athletic. He learned to apply himself at school and was proud to show me his first taste of success when he earned a C on his geometry test. True, it wasn’t the greatest grade in the world, but it showed him that he could be successful if he put in the effort and not fear what others think.

A Unique Trophy

This small taste of success gave him the courage to keep moving forward. I'mproudto say his determination has changed him from gangster to nerd status with a 4.0 GPA! This happened because our staff believed in him and gave him the tools to thrive. I am grateful for our committed employees and so proud of this young man. In fact, I still have his original C graded test as a trophy on my wall. When he first gave it to me he didn't think I was going to keep it, but to his surprise,I display it proudly. This simple gesture of caring went a long way in this young man’s life.

It’s True For All of Us

If we all apply ourselves in life and be determined to overcome obstacles and fears, there is no stopping success!Yes, this may be difficult, but well worth it. Honestly, we are all far more capable than what we believe. We just have to remind ourselves of this truth every day and push ourselves to believe and achieve!
At KYJO, we are passionate about helping every teen in our care build a strong and healthy self-esteem and discover that they are in charge of their future. We are constantly mindful that if we don't demonstrate and show the way...who will? That's why we have no choice but to show the way and LOVE LIFE!

It Takes a Team

Thank you to our incredible staff, our donors, sponsors, supporters, community partners, family, teammates and friends for believing in the mission of KYJO. We have great plans for 2016 and I'm blessed to have outstanding new teammates to take our organization to the next level of excellence. I'm grateful the kids will be here to experience the best opportunities KYJO has ever offered.

The best is yet to come,

Kevin

************************************ July 2015 **********************************

I hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July! Now it’s time for the countdown to the biggest bang of the summer…The 3rd Annual Big B.A.N.G. (Building A New Generation) Weekend starting July 10th at our local Porsche dealership, where we will be hosting our inaugural Gala titled “Vision of Hope”. This will be followed by our signature free football clinic for 500 youth at Bulldog Stadium Saturday, July 11th. Here at KYJO we love creating opportunities for young people of all ages. We are blessed to have a team committed to putting on amazing community events. These one of kind events are known for creating so many lasting memories and opportunities for youth and the entire community. Leading up to the weekend, one of our therapists, Ms. Angie, had a concept called “Spirit week” which consists of: Monday: KYJO day (wear your KYJO gear), Tuesday: Fresno State day (show your support for the Bulldogs), Wednesday: On Wednesdays, we wear pink!, Thursday: Jersey day (professional or college)

It feels good that staff share the same passion and desire which creates outside the box thinking. It makes your journey and purpose that much more meaningful when you have people that understand the vision. Also leading up to this week we will have all the KYJO youth dressed to impress and have a photo shoot at the Porsche dealership and a few current NFL players will be joining the fun. This will be the first time many of these youth wear suits, nice dresses, up close to fancy cars, while having an opportunity to take pictures next to an NFL player.

Our passion is unmatched. This holds true for all our supporters out there as well. In June they were able to get the tutelage to ride dirt bikes at Rich Oliver’s Mystery School. Special thanks to Rich's wife Karin Oliver for setting it up. Hands down, this was one of the coolest activities the KYJO youth have ever did.
Former KYJO resident, Marvin, who is currently attending college, has reached out to us to say he wants to be a sponsor the weekend and several former residents are requesting to volunteer. This isn’t forced and they choose to give back. The change that you seek for the youth might not always come right away, but when it does it still feels as if all the work that was put in was good for something. Kids never forget good advice given…they may not listen the first few times, but eventually they get it. Those are the ones that will have a fighting chance in life.

If I can sum up the month of June it would be determination, desire, mixed with some perseverance. No matter the daunting task, we managed to find a way to get things done. Event time is extra added stress over and above the normal day to day, and it takes a toll on all. That’s why I have to give a BIG “shout out” to the hard working KYJO staff and residents. One of our core values is “The Ability to Adapt to Change”. Many people in this world despise change and will do whatever they can not to change. With that mindset there will never be any room for growth. If you don’t like/want to change you are essentially saying you’re perfect. Well…we all know that no one in this world is perfect. For anybody to attain anything remotely close, we must change often. When your goal(s) are made you must do what you have to do to make sure they are attainable. This means doing things that you are unfamiliar with at times. No one said it will be easy…But it will be worth it!

Well enough of my talk. Time to “Create Opportunities”! Thanks to all that support the efforts of KYJO. We love and appreciate you! Without you, none of this would ever be possible…

************************************ June 2015 **********************************

Big BANG Weekend is Here Again!!!


Get ready for our 3rd Annual Big BANG Weekend in July! This year we would like to share with the community the opportunities we are creating for youth in our First KYJO Gala "Vision of Hope" on Friday, July 10th at Porsche of Fresno. We will now have a chance for all to see what KYJO is about while awarding some of Fresno's community members who have helped KYJO get to where it's at today along with honoring some of our own Bulldog Alumni who understand what it means to give back. Following the Gala will be our Annual "Believe and Achieve" Free Football Clinic on Saturday, July 11th at Fresno State Bulldog Stadium for children all over Central Valley. Time to have another 500 kids to have unforgettable memories. Don't miss any of the action!

Over the course of the last three months at KYJO, we've heard from seven former residents who now are doing better than they could have imagined. Although some of them completed the program and some did not, it didn't matter. What mattered was that we have left an impact in their lives where now they all have jobs. They took advantage of the opportunities to grow as a better person in life. It was not easy! But they fought through all obstacles and did it! Many of us need to learn from these successful residents. They were believers of venturing into the unknown and succeeding. They were right! All society needs to embrace change and grow! Don't be ever afraid to succeed.

Remember to seize opportunity and don't ever let anything stop you. We steer leading to believe many things are impossible, but they are just saying..."I'm Possible".

Hope to see you all out for this year's BIG BANG Weekend!

KJ

************************************ December 2014 **********************************

Happy Holidays!!!

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

This could not be truer. When I look back over the year, this could have been the official KYJO motto for 2014. I have watched as we have become so much stronger over the past year and it's because of the dedicated staff that has helped build KYJO and make it what it is today. I am actually thankful for all the trials and tribulations of 2014 because this is our opportunity to change anything negative we have experienced to something positive! Even though we would all LOVE to believe that we're perfect (smile and laugh), we're not; no one is. We all make mistakes. And there's nothing wrong with making mistakes because every mistake is an opportunity to learn and do better.

Just about a month ago, we finished one of our major special events. Bring It Home Weekend created an opportunity for the kids, foster parents, and Fresno State Alumni to gather and fellowship. We are blessed to have completed our Third Annual BBQ cook-off. It was great to have our foster kids participate in the judging for the barbeque competition. Many attended their first football game and were excited to see my Fresno State Bulldogs start their winning streak. Congrats to my Bulldogs! With their efforts they are now in a bowl game. What a perfect example of "It's not ever how you start, it's how you finish!" I'd like to thank all our KYJO staff and volunteers who participated and made this year's event a success. It was a challenge, but everyone stepped up to make it happen. I'd also like to give a special thanks to our sponsors. Without your generosity and assistance none of this would have been possible! Thank you! Food, kids, and football make a great combination!

Now onto the holidays. Holiday season isn't always the best time for some foster children. It's a blessing we were able to show our foster youth, foster parents, and residents that holiday season is truly a time to be thankful. This Thanksgiving Z-Blinds donated turkeys and we were able to make sure that none of our residents or foster families had to go without celebrating Thanksgiving. Thank you Z-Blinds for making a difference in the community! Our residents who didn't have the opportunity to be with their families were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with their KYJO family. We started off the day with our annual softball game and worked up quite an appetite. We were able to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast that our KYJO staff and residents worked together to prepare. Every year I look forward to making my "famous" fried turkey and celebrating with the residents!

We have been very fortunate this year. This Christmas we were blessed to have trees donated to our foster families. I have heard too many times that our foster kids have never experienced a "real" Christmas. I always let them know that a KYJO Christmas will be the yet for them and over the years this has held true. This year was another year to make foster children's Christmas wishes come true with our Angel Tree Program. We delivered Christmas trees with Angel wishes to local businesses and organizations. Each Angel wish represented an at-risk youth in our Fresno community and neighboring counties. I want to thank the many businesses out there for displaying a KYJO Angel Tree to assure all the foster children and residents have a Christmas that they could only dream about. I also want to thank those who have helped made Angels' wishes come true.

There is one last thing I'd like to mention. At KYJO we are not only blessed with a job, but we are blessed with the opportunity to make a difference and change lives. As 2014 comes to an end, I sit back and reflect on the year, our achievements, our learning opportunities (aka mistakes), and think about how we can be more impactful, and wondering how many more lives we can touch next year. We will continue to on course with our mission: To inspire through the building of trust, mentoring, and creating positive life experiences to develop positive, strong minded and confident individuals. Going into 2015 we have to uphold the mission and vision of KYJO! If that means we have to work harder, then so be it! Our purpose is showing these youth they do have a brighter outlook on life than they think. Let's finish the year strong!

KJ

************************************ November 2014 **********************************

Bring It Home Weekend Kick-Off!

It feels like yesterday we were wrapping up Big Bang Weekend and now it is already time for Bring It Home 2014! So many exciting things have been happening at KYJO, I didn't even know if Bring It Home was going to be possible this year. I received overwhelming support and requests from the residents to participate and constant inquiries from my fellow Bulldog Alumni asking about the date so they could mark their calendars. This made me realize just how much this event meant to everyone and our KYJO staff got to work! We can never pass up an opportunity to give back to our community and create positive memories for the youth in our care.

Bring It Home Weekend is an inspiring combination of Fresno State Football Alumni and foster youth. These youth learn firsthand the meaning of brotherhood and get to experience what it feels like to be surrounded by people who truly care. They also have the opportunity show off their BBQ skills in a friendly competition against some former professional football players and Bulldog alumni. This year's event is even more special because we have two former residents that reached out to me asking if they can volunteer and do whatever needed to help out. This means so much to everyone at KYJO and reminds us all we are a family here!

Special thanks to our sponsors and supporters who believe in the mission and vision of KYJO. You are truly a blessing. Sometimes it is said that my heart is too big because despite their mistakes I never give up on any of these kids...but I don't believe anyone's heart can be too big. It is up to us to create opportunities for these young men and women to have a brighter future. With your continued support, this can and will continue to happen.

Last month we hosted our very first open house at the KYJO corporate office. I really wanted to capture what KYJO meant from the kids' perspective, so we decided to have the residents run the program. They went over the mission statement, vision and core values. They then shared their heart-felt stories with our guests. Some stories left many in tears. At KYJO, we teach our kids to believe in themselves and turn their failures into success and at our open house we saw confident, successful individuals. With the addition of the Reshape CBS Intervention and Prevention services, a few of the young who have graduated from the program were also honored with their parents for their continued successes. Parents were appreciative of the support of how KYJO cares not only for their children, but stands out as a very true statement of true service and dedication to the youth and Community of Fresno, and we will continue to do just that!

KJ

************************************ October 2014 **********************************

2014 BBQ Cook-Off/Bring It Home Weekend...Who's Ready?

When you live life you grow to understand that life can be like walking through a hurricane at times. For those who are not ready and don't believe they have what it takes to withstand the powerful winds, will for sure get blown right off their feet. On the other hand, those who are prepared, believe and have faith, will survive through any hurricane brought their way. If you live through a hurricane you will be much more prepared if another happens to come your way and much stronger than a person who never has. Life is about learning from every experience thrown at you. No matter if they are good or bad, use what you have learned to have a brighter tomorrow. When it's hurricane season in life, making it through these harsh points really develop the inner strength of the individual. The mind is strengthened so that no negative force can bring you down and the only thing you have to look forward to is SUCCESS. That's the mentality that I bring to KYJO and when I mentor the youth. It never fails that the ones who listen are the very ones who get their lives together and understand the world is much more than what they envisioned growing up.

Many foster youth have not been exposed to many things to know what life truly is. However, there is one young man who has beat the odds and learned life has much more to offer than he thought. He learned with the ongoing change in the world, he had to change his life in order to keep climbing the ladder of success. In short, he came in a knuckle head off the street and ignorant to many facets in life, but now he represents our first group home youth that has stepped down to our foster family agency. He now has the families he has never had before. I say families because he has his new foster parents and KYJO. Youth like Joe are one of the many reasons why we developed a foster family agency. Everyone becomes family and now we don't have to part ways with our family again if at all possible. It's a blessing when you can truly say you have touched someone's heart and make a difference. It's a beautiful thing when youth change their lives on their own accord. They just need an opportunity to do so. Please give Joe a big round of applause for surviving his hurricane to see the sun shines through the clouds. Thank you Joe for not giving up and showing the other youth it is possible. They just have to believe. We are always looking for foster parents who have a big heart. If you fit that criteria please don't hesitate to contact us!

Well it's about that time again for the 3rd Annual KYJO BBQ Cook-Off/Bring It Home Weekend. This is free and open to the public. This year we will kick off with casino night at Club 500 on Thursday, November 6th. Come out and meet your favorite Bulldogs of old and play a round of cards and win some prizes. If you can't make it to Club 500, then bring the entire family to the BBQ-Cook on Saturday. Come join Fresno State Football Legends as they team up with local and regional BBQ Pitmasters in KYJO's 3rd Annual BBQ Cook-Off! This year's event will be November 8th, 2014 from 11:00am to 2:00pm at O'Neill Park (Cross streets are Barstow Ave. and Woodrow Ave.) Our 2014 Celebrity Guest judges are Steffone Paige, Steve Spach, and Charlie Jones.

KJ

************************************ August 2014 **********************************

Another Successful BIG B.AN.G. WEEKEND Event!

July was a busy month here at KYJO, but it was one of the most memorable! It started with Big B.A.N.G. Weekend Celebrity Bowling. By far this year's event weekend was the best KYJO has ever had. This month was filled with giving back, making a difference, and creating opportunity. I couldn't even keep count of all the smiles we helped create. None of this would have been possible without the combined effort from the media, sponsors, celebrity guests, athletes, KYJO staff, volunteers, coaches, Fresno State, and our community! Once again, I thank you for believing in the vision of KYJO.

It was a blessing to be able to make dreams come true for so many youth and community members by meeting their favorite football players up close and personal. Even more dreams came true for nearly 500 kids who were able to participate in Believe and Achieve Free Football Clinic at Bulldog Stadium. That was a first time, for many, to have stepped foot on a Division 1 football field. What made it even sweeter was that they were getting mentored and trained from the some of the football players who used to play on that very field. We could not have thought of a better opportunity for these kids. There are no words that can describe the incredible emotions and joy felt by everyone.

Overall, more than 2,000 individuals were touched directly and thousands more indirectly. This weekend will never be forgotten. We were also blessed to have two of our foster families in attendance for the weekend. I challenge everyone who helped with the weekend to be involved next year and let's make it 10x's better! We will Believe and Achieve once again!

Well, the action packed month didn't stop with Big B.A.N.G. Weekend. We then had our 5th Annual VTR/KYJO Summer Olympics. We had another successful year giving nearly 50 at-risk youth the opportunity to participate in a week-long Olympics of physical and educational events. They learned the concept of belonging to a team and giving all of your effort, no matter if you were good or not. As long as they participated and tried they were all winners! Take a bow VTR and KYJO residents because five years strong is five years longer than many thought that this could happen. Don't ever believe something is impossible...it's I'm Possible!

To top off the entire month, we had four graduates to complete the program and step to a lower level of care. They fought through all the trials and tribulations and finished on top! They now know what it feels like to be successful and to succeed at something. Now they can take that new found knowledge and apply it to their lives going forward. They came in with no confidence, but they are leaving with confident in themselves with their heads held high! Great work guys!

Reflecting back on the month it was a team effort to have made this possible. From the event weekend to Olympics, FFA to the graduates, everyone had a part to help touch a life in the month of July!

KJ

************************************ July 2014 **********************************

GET READY FOR BIG B.A.N.G. WEEKEND 2014!

It has been a challenging year thus far in 2014. That's quite okay because I embrace any challenges or obstacles that present themselves. It's needed for growth within. If you're not failing, you're not growing. Just know it is another great opportunity to get better. Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. Conquering things no one, including yourself, expected you to do. When you have faith and believe, anything is possible! That is why you should never get discouraged when you fail. Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. Take that failure and let it catapult you into success.

We have had two residents, who used that same mindset mentioned above, to defy what they believed was inevitable and pulled through with a High School Diploma! This was such a great accomplishment because their only goal was to obtain a GED because they figured earning a diploma would be too hard. Well they proved themselves wrong, took on the challenges as they came and received their diploma! They believed and then achieved! It's about that time to mass produce Opportunities once again! Starting with the 2nd Annual Big B.A.N.G. (Building A New Generation) weekend July 11th-12th! Time for the KYJO youth, foster youth, at-risk youth and community members to be given the opportunity to make everlasting memories. These memories would not be possible without the support of our sponsors, KYJO staff, players, celebrity guests, volunteers, and the community. On behalf of KYJO, I salute you all!

This is also the time of year for our 5th Annual Valley Teen Ranch/KYJO Olympics. Crazy how this started as a hope and vision...now it's going on five years strong! This busy month of July, many foster and at-risk youth will have opportunities that they never deemed possible. Without these opportunities their outlook on life would never change. It's up to us to break that cycle. KYJO is up for the challenge! July will be a busy month, but well worth it because KYJO is about giving back and making a difference in the lives of anyone seeking assistance. It started with at-risk youth, but we are now reaching so many more. We are just happy to provide many individuals things in life that they only dreamed of. With that said, dreams can become reality if the will and determination is in your heart! Enjoy this hot month of July, and remember to always jump on opportunity because it may never come back again.

-KJ


************************************ May 2014 **********************************

NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH

HELP US RAISE AWARENESS

Did you know that May is National Foster Care Month? Many youth in the foster care system have been through many obstacles throughout their young lives. As a result it's easy for them to give up because they have never been given opportunities to succeed. Here at KYJO we have learned that exposing youth to new opportunities creates goals to be obtained. It's hard to get through an obstacle or an adverse moment if you have never learned to deal with adverse situations.

So far this year we have had three residents secure employment along with a resident who just completed the program last month and is on her way to attend junior college in the summer. These awesome achievements would not be possible if the youth in our care hadn't learned how to work through obstacles and adversity. They were given positive opportunities which they used to their advantage in order to better themselves. Every successful person in life has taken advantage of opportunities presented to them. This is why KYJO "Creates Opportunities for a Better Way of Life." All youth should be exposed to different opportunities. If not, most of them will continue to lead unproductive lives. If we do our job as adults and open the door to new opportunities for youth we will be surprised how many will have a different outlook on life.

Even us as adults and staff have obstacles that we must overcome daily. If we can show the youth how we persevere through hard times, they will be more apt to follow in our footsteps. As Booker T Washington stated, "Success is to be measured not so much as the position one has reached in life as the obstacles one has overcome." Overcoming obstacles build character and that means many Foster Youth have an abundance of character.

Happy National Foster Care Month!

KJ

***************************** February 2014 ***************************** 

Happy Valentines Day!

Well this is the month of "Love" and I'm blessed to say the foster youth we serve can feel the love and caring nurturing they deserve. There are many youth in the foster care system that can't get that anywhere and they feel abandoned and left alone. I'm glad we can make a difference and show them it's people in the world that truly do care about their well being. I have countless encounters with kids that say they don't know what it feels like to be loved. It really touches my heart when they say these things to me. I cannot imagine being a teenager and never have felt loved. Well, while in our care that for sure changes. They start to understand what it feels like to be loved and cared for the right way. We give our youth a sense of direction and help them attain their goals in life. I don't consider what I do as work because it comes natural. As well, it thrills me to have a troubled youth come into our program that everyone doubted and becomes successful against all odds! Here at KYJO this happens all the time. If we don't love them, who will?

Displaying loving, caring, and nurturing behaviors are contagious. The youth and staff alike, start caring for each other in many cases. We become "Family". Even though we are not their immediate family, we sure are their extended family. We become positive role models in their lives and this piece has been missing from many of their lives throughout their childhood. This is the key to making a difference! It should not matter the race, sexual orientation, behaviors, or where they are from, all youth should be loved unconditionally. With that mindset we took a handful of youth to Chukchansi Park's job fair so they could get a head start on their career path. I'm happy to say two residents lefts with jobs! This was made possible by the dedicated staff and youth because they "cared". Constantly doing life skills (job readiness) with the youth has paid off big time. They are ahead of the game because the people around cared to show them the path. We also had a youth at the Barstow house receive student of the month out of his entire school. Good job DJ! He sees education pays off. This would not have been possible if the staff didn't care to make him do study hour or homework.

Sometimes we all display different types of love. I'm a firm believer of tough love. At times the youth don't see the reasoning behind my madness until they see the results they are after. Once this moment happens then it clicks for them. But it doesn't matter how you love, just love. Everyone needs to be loved from time to time. KYJO staff...I LOVE YOU ALL! So if you are reading this and you have not told anybody that you love them lately, go ahead and get busy! They will appreciate you!

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

-Lao Tzu

Kevin Jordan
 

***************************** December 2013 *****************************

Happy Holidays! Can you believe Christmas and the New Year are almost here? It seems like just a few weeks ago we moved into our new corporate office. This holiday season is special because many of the youth we serve have never had a Christmas. Well it’s time for that to come to an end! Special thanks to our many Angel Tree sponsors. Because of your generosity you will provide everlasting memories this holiday season for the youth of KYJO. You all are truly a blessing. Many youth will finally experience what it is like to celebrate Christmas like a family. So on behalf of the KYJO youth I would like to say “Thank You!”

I want to also spotlight two guest speakers that took time out of their busy schedules and came to speak to the young men of KYJO during our “Becoming a Man” program. Ricky White and Joe Boy Perez, like me, are also Fresno State football alumni that had to battle through trials and tribulations to get to where they are now. Although both lived different lives and had different story lines, the message was the same…Your outcome in life is your own destiny! Learn from your past mistakes and know that those mistakes/choices will mold your future. So make the right decisions! To learn more about these gentlemen and their organizations you can visit www.kyjo.org/spotlight. Thank you again fellas!

The residents also had an opportunity to have their very own holiday party at the Dante Club where they chose a Mexican style dinner. Special thank you to Jodi for putting the party for the residents together. This was also their night for recognition. The residents had an opportunity to vote for their house staff of the year for each house. It also included year-end awards for the residents that were voted by KYJO staff: Character Counts, Perseverance, and Academic Achievement. All three individuals who won well deserved their perspective awards. Congrats to them all!

Well it didn’t stop there. Later that week KYJO staff had our holiday party and by far this was the best in KYJO history! This was truly a night of recognition for staff as well. But of course it wouldn’t be a party without some entertainment lol. A “Big Thank You” to Lead Staff Decovan, better known as Mr. D, for providing us with some laughter while he performed his standup comedy. Yes, I was the bunt of most of the jokes but it’s ok because it was funny. Well the standup wasn’t the only entertainment we had. Mr. D battle Mr. Kenny on the dance floor. Let’s just say it was entertainment filled and Kenny went out with a BANG! Thanks to all the staff sponsors and supporters who came out. KYJO truly appreciates you!

Our many wishes to Kenny as he will be leaving us to continue his education in Portland. Being that helping hand and being their through the years for everyone, you will truly be missed. We wish you well in all your endeavors. You will always be a part of the KYJO family!

With your continued efforts and support we can continue creating opportunities for the youth in our community.
Thank you and Happy Holidays!



*****************************     September 2013     *****************************

“We had an awesome summer!"

I have been reflecting back on all of our summer events and activities; it's been one heck of a ride! The preparation for Big B.A.N.G Weekend was a monster. But with the help of the sponsors, staff, board members, friends, Fresno State Athletics, alumni, celebrity guests, fans and my Bulldog brothers the weekend was a success!

Both the foster youth and over 400 community youth were able to partake and had some of their dreams come true! Watching over 400 kids participate in a well-organized, free football clinic at Bulldog Stadium, was a dream come true for me as well. My hat's off to all that took part in this 1st annual weekend! There were over 80 former NFL players, Division I football players and coaches who took the time out of their schedule to give back to the community. A big special thanks to Rob Golden of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who believed in the vision from day one. He truly cares about the well-being of kids and the community. KYJO salutes you! He even brought some of his NFL buddies along for the ride (Lance Briggs, Kelvin Beachum and Isaiah Green to name a few). Fans and kids were able to meet other NFL greats such as, Lorenzo Neal and Daryle Lamonica. I can't wait to do it again next year!

KYJO did not just sit back and rest, after Big B.A.N.G. we went right into the week-long Valley Teen Ranch/Keeping Youth Journeying Onward Olympics (VTR/KYJO). The momentum from Big B.A.N.G. carried us into the week. This being our 4th annual Olympics, it was by far the best ever! We even had to do war room style debate to pick the MVP's of the week-long games. Great job VTR/KYJO staff!

Still there is no sleep for the weary. We have had three residents graduate from the KYJO program. They have bright futures ahead of them. One resident, Rodolfo, was inspired to become a lawyer. He had the opportunity to have a sit down dinner with a federal defense attorney and picked his brain before he left. He was truly inspired after that. Another young man, that many didn't have hope for at first, changed his life around.He even decided not to go back to his hometown, just so he could stay on the path that he destined for himself while here at KYJO. The third resident was a young lady who came in thinking she knew everything, she changed her life around to step down to a lower level of care. For their graduation party we spent the day at the lake boating, jet skiing, tubing, swimming, and BBQ'n for their final hurrah before their big day came.

Kids, myself and the staff are so proud of all your accomplishments and we know you all will be successful from here on out! Great job!!!

Here at KYJO we love staying busier than most. Right around the corner will be KYJO's 2nd Annual BBQ Cook-Off at Fresno State's O'Neill Park on Oct. 19. This promises to be another memorable event for our foster youth, community, and my Bulldogs! Together we will inspire each other! From getting tutelage on the gridiron to BBQ'n with your favorite Fresno State football legend the fun doesn't stop. The same people you grew up watching, you can now grill with or against! Want to be a spectator? Come see top pitmasters compete against restaurants and each other. The cook-off is one part of Bring It Home Weekend.

This weekend promises to be tradition rich so you don't want to miss it!
Once again, I want to thank you ALL for your support. I would like to especially thank my staff, without you there would be no KYJO. So let's continue to strive to be the best that we can be. As Winston Churchill once said, "To be perfect means to change often."
Your continuing support, monetary donations/in-kind donations are what continues KYJO on the path to greatness!

The cook-off is one part of Bring It Home Weekend. For more details on Bring it Home Weekend and its events click here.


*****************************     May 2013     *****************************

Four months have passed this year and it’s been another roller coaster of a time, but we are still here! We may get knocked down six times, but we still manage to get up seven! We are here another day to continue to be a difference in the lives of the youth we serve. The beginning of 2013 started with KYJO becoming a licensed Foster Family Agency! Special thanks to everyone who had a part in making this possible! That was the easy part, now it’s time for the real task at hand-- to find parents who have that same caring and nurturing attitude as we do. I hope you are ready for the challenge KYJO!

The goal for our group homes is to continue to thrive, we never cease implementing new improvements for the well-being of our residents, to make this happen. We now start each month concentrating on a life skill for all of our residents: cooking, washing clothes, and job readiness. Some of us take these things for granted. These things may seem small, but the residents need to know the little things to survive once they are on their own. Knowing how important these things are for them to learn, I decided to put a little twist on things to encourage more participation.

When it was time for our kids to demonstrate their cooking skills at the end of the month, we had a contest for the best dish. Yes, I did the taste test for all types of food from spicy chicken over rice, to a tender T-bone steak that had enough Lawry’s Seasoned Salt to choke the devil himself! I cannot blame the resident for that. He asked my staff, Reggie for advice and he told him to use Seasoned Salt on everything. Thanks Reggie for your added cooking knowledge! All in all, I loved the competitive nature many residents displayed while battling for the crown. A secret to winning any competition at KYJO is to think outside the box and Barstow House did just that! Never in a million years did I think I was going to have service compared to Flemings or Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. The residents began with two different appetizers and then the main course, which was the T-bone. It did not matter as much about the taste of the dish but the effort and thought that went into the presentation. I felt like a king for a day. Congrats Barstow! P.S. Reggie stay away from the kitchen! Since January, we have had four residents graduate the program or get stepped down to foster care: Aquia S., Brezzy C., Alaina S., Nicholas C. and Sean C. Each of them had to go through tough times to get to where they are today. They all exhibited true strength and desire to reach their goal of completing the program. They thought completion of the program was impossible when they first started. The word impossible became, “I’m Possible”! Way to go ladies and gentlemen! Here at KYJO we are BIG on education! Recently, we had a 10th grade resident receive their school’s highest assessment testing score! Another 11th grade resident at the same school received the highest score in his grade! They were later rewarded for their hard work by riding in style, in a stretch limousine to their prom. Great work fellas! Finally, I would like to give special thanks to Rob Golden of the Pittsburg Steelers, Anthony Perales pro MMA fighter, and my fraternity brother, Greg Dawson for coming to speak to the young men of KYJO during our Becoming A Man program. These gentlemen took time out of their busy schedules to come speak and mentor the young men of KYJO about life lessons. You can learn more about these individuals by visiting our “Spotlight” page. We would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for KYJO’s hard working staff concentrating on the little things. We make mistakes at times, but we learn from those failures. I’m a firm believer of “There is no success without failure.” Let’s continue to concentrate and improve on those little things that have gotten us to where we are today. I thank you and appreciate you team “KYJO”! Kevin J.

Your giving this month to KYJO helps us, so we can continue to help the children in our care. By donating you are making a direct impact on the lives of our kids and for that we are grateful! Donate Today!


*****************************     November 2012     *****************************

This will be the first of many newsletters to keep you up to date with current events at KYJO. Many people harbored doubts about our ability to accomplish many of the feats that we have achieved in this short time of our existence. When people tell you that something is impossible, we turn to them and say “I’m Possible!” With that mindset, we were determined to prove all wrong. I knew our vision was achievable because my burning passion to help and care for kids in need was, and still is, undeniable.

My other passion is football, especially my high school (Narbonne) and college (Fresno State) alma maters. Accordingly, I wanted to develop a program that combines both my passions, in order to take them both to the next level and beyond! My professional career with the Green Bay Packers was cut short because of a serious knee injury, but I still fought back. This past summer we were blessed to have the opportunity to hire 11 of the current 2012 Fresno State Bulldog Football players for summer jobs as child care counselors. While I was playing college football, there was never an opportunity to obtain meaningful jobs during the summer. These gifted student athletes were given an opportunity that many never had before them. Well, let me tell you, their performance surpassed all expectations by leaps and bounds! The players started working just in time to be a part of our third annual VTR/KYJO Summer Olympics. The Summer Olympics week was power packed with fun, excitement, and encouragement for kids and mentors alike. Everyone participated and showed what they could do and ALL of the kids went above and beyond all expectations and made the week a success!

Prior to my recruiting trips during my senior year of high school, I had never met a Division 1 football player. However, our residents were blessed to be mentored several days a week for a few months by the gifted Student-Athletes from Fresno State. Now, when they watch a Fresno State game, they can personally say they know players on the field! The residents even had several opportunities to meet the players in the locker room after the games. The players’ presence alone created a world of difference for these kids. Opportunities don’t come like this all the time. I would like to thank you Connie, from VTR, for believing in this vision three years ago and helping to make all of it possible. Every year the VTR/KYJO summer Olympics has grown. This year we had nearly 100% participation from the kids. Can’t wait for next year!!!

This fall we were blessed with another very successful fundraiser, KYJO’s 1st annual BBQ Cook-Off/Bring it Home Weekend. The goal here was to raise money for KYJO and to help bring the Fresno State Football Alumni back into the fold in order to reconnect and support the Football Team and the University. Many, many unforeseen obstacles threatened to derail this event. If I had hair, it would have fallen out again! It was mighty tempting to throw in the towel on many different occasions, but at KYJO we also teach by setting a good example for the kids. Where the objective is important and good things can be accomplished, which was truly the case with this event, giving up is simply never an option!!! We embraced the challenges and did what we had to do to make it a successful weekend. The fundraiser became a ‘Fun’raiser but that didn’t matter anymore because the kids and the many Fresno State football alumni exhibited nothing but priceless smiles. In my experience, a smile is a window of opportunity that leads to the chance to make true progress with our precious youth of today.

KYJO recently made the critical leap to expand our services to Non-Minor Dependents (NMDs).. I would like to thank all my corporate staff that helped put the new program together. When we work together, we are a phenomenal, unbeatable team! The decision to expand our reach to the NMDs was an easy one. It used to sadden me beyond description when a resident “aged-out” of the program upon turning 18 and was forced to leave our care but had nowhere to go. Even with AB. 12, the problem still remained because it wasn’t geared primarily for group homes. In addition, many of the county workers of some of our residents, who had stepped down to a lower level of care, would ask if we had foster families within KYJO because both the resident and the worker wanted to stay within our care. This prompted us to work hard and developed our own program to acquire our very own Family Foster Agency (FFA).

Here at KYJO we are about opportunities and exposure. Some youth who are placed here initially don’t believe in themselves and tend to give up easily. Why? Because society has told them over and over that they cannot be successful in any endeavor. At KYJO we tell them prove society wrong! Let’s develop the new person that you can become that will be accepted by society. I use the term “learn” because many youth cringe when you tell them that you want to “change” them. Believe me, if they think you are forcing them to change, they will make sure they don’t. However, when it’s about learning something new they are much more accepting of what really turns out to be dramatic change.

Most of the kids are up to the challenge and we explain to them that the road to learning a “different way of life” won’t be easy. It’s just like learning a new subject in school. Some subjects come easy, and some are very hard. This is where you need that extra assistance or tutoring. That’s why it’s our job as counselors/mentors to “tutor” these kids to learn the skill sets that society has told them are simply out of reach. A few don’t get the concept at first mention, so I simply tell them to make sure you are better today than you were yesterday. How can you succeed without failure first? Learn from each of your mistakes and improve each and every single day. With our kids, the first steps are always the most difficult. But without those first steps, change cannot begin or even occur. One of my favorite sayings has always been the classic quote from the German philosopher, Wolfgang Von Goethe:
“WHAT EVER YOU CAN DO, OR DREAM YOU CAN DO, BEGIN IT. BOLDNESS HAS GENIUS, POWER AND MAGIC IN IT. BEGIN IT NOW!”

I have found that a big component of learning the new and improved persona is a change in day to day attire. All residents will be provided with business clothing upon leaving our program. Some don’t like it at first but as soon as they put the clothes on, they see how other people immediately view them differently, but in a positive light. This is when they “get it” and love the positive feedback! That’s why I take the time to help pick out suits for all of my male residents. I would like to personally thank Tony of the Fresno Suit Outlet for making that possible over the last two years. Our kids really appreciate it! The problem we get now is that they want to wear the suit everywhere. That is one problem I can deal with!

In this five year span, there have been many ups and some downs. If we were a roller coaster we would resemble the X2 at Magic Mountain. If you aren’t familiar with this coaster, please Google it and you will know exactly what I mean. It feels like you’re going to die at several points, and many have passed out trying to ride it, and many others didn’t even attempt to ride from the sight of it alone. Well, for the people who took the leap of faith and jumped on the coaster, we are still alive and kicking! As the quote states “Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs...but it's your choice to either scream or enjoy the ride. Be Positive.” It doesn’t matter which you do because at the end of every roller coaster ride after it comes to a complete stop, most say that it was fun! (Even if they were the ones doing the most screaming). For the few that say they can’t handle the ride or it’s too scary, we are all still here, and have lived to tell about the glory of conquering the coaster!

“You know what happens when you don't take a chance...NOTHING!!!”

If I didn’t live by that motto, you would not be reading this today. Five years ago, I took the leap of faith and opened our first group home in Hanford, CA (KYJO). Thanks to my hard working staff, our many supporters, and that thing called ‘opportunity’, we are now up to six group homes, and we are now approved to conduct training (Continuing Education and Initial Certification Training for Group Home Administrators, Managing Aggressive Behavior (MAB), CPR & First-Aid, and Water Safety) throughout the state of California, and will soon be opening our Family Foster Agency (FFA) in the coming months. We are truly blessed and the hard work doesn't go unnoticed. Let's go another five years and beyond!

Happy 5th year anniversary KYJO family!
With Much Love and Appreciation to All My Valued Staff, Teammates, Family, Friends, and countless supporters… Thank you!!!
Be Motivated!!!


*****************************     October 2012     *****************************

Hello all!

Thank you for taking the time to visit the Huddle. I would like to first thank all competitors, football alumni, family, friends and of course, my hard working staff for making Bring It Home weekend a success. There were so many obstacles that came up organizing the weekend, but we didn’t let that discourage us. Getting past those obstacles just made us that much stronger. This was our first Cook-off but definitely not our last… It was priceless to see all the kids smiles out there. No amount of money can buy that! This will only be bigger and better next year.

Again, thank you for supporting KYJO…