It’s April, which means it’s time to gear up for Big B.A.N.G. weekend! This year’s Big B.A.N.G. (our 7th!) will take place July 12 – 13, with a pre-game celebration at Fresno’s Dave & Buster’s on Friday night, and the FREE “Believe and Achieve” football clinic once again taking place at Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium on Saturday morning and afternoon.
We’ve been talking to a number of our community, college, and pro football partners throughout the last couple months, and we’re excited to once again play host to the over 400(!) fourth through eighth graders who’ll attend the clinic and learn what it takes to SUCCEED – both on and off the field. You’re going to see us promoting the HECK out of Big B.A.N.G. throughout the next couple months, because we believe the event is truly transformative. We’ve seen the power of Big B.A.N.G over the last six years, and we’re excited to throw that energy and power out into the community for a seventh time!
If you’re as excited as we are, you can get involved in the event RIGHT NOW! We’re still on the lookout for community partners (inquire here), volunteers (inquire here), and OF COURSE – attendees! If your kid’s interested in attending the FREE football clinic, you’re going to want to sign them up NOW – before we run out of room.
We hope to see you on July 13 out at Bulldog Stadium!
Youth for Christ
Fresno/Madera Youth for Christ is a Christian faith-based nonprofit organization that works with the community to bring young people closer to God and each other. We do this through six different divisions, each focusing on a different aspect of today’s youth life.
Our Group Life division partners with various group home agencies throughout Fresno and Madera Counties – supporting, mentoring, and sharing Jesus with high-risk teens. We’ve been honored to work with KYJO, and to see how receptive many of their children are to the Word of God. These kids are eager to hear about God and what He can do for them. It’s been a privilege to share Jesus with them in a small group setting, where many of them are hearing the Gospel for the first time.
In a recent conversation, one KYJO teen shared how God uses people, such as YFC mentors, to come and remind kids that He is real and that He loves them. This teen ended the conversation with, “We need these reminders being in these places, because we forget when we get caught up in our own world.” Another conversation with a teen girl revealed that she has been hurt by Christians her entire life, and had a negative view of them until she saw them in action in her home.
Group Life has been honored to be welcomed as family in the lives of the kids we serve. We are grateful to KYJO for opening their doors and supporting our ministry as well!
KYJO Rock Star Award
This Month’s Rock Star: Luis Santiago
A number of our staff stood out in March, but one particular KYJO team member grew by leaps and bounds! Mr. Luis Santiago demonstrated what it looks like when a staff member utilizes all the training and tools we provide.
Luis had no prior experience when he started at KYJO, but he’s quickly moved up to a leadership role and shown us his natural talent. He is truly here to make a difference in the lives our youth, and he demonstrates that by attending all our activities, being consistent, providing structure, and adapting to change while problem-solving. His out-of-the-box ideas have helped keep our kids busy, while his communication skills have allowed him to talk to kids and other staff members on their level.
Luis will never stagnate, and we know he’s ready for his new responsibilities. His ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable is what makes Luis this month’s Rock Star!
Residential Youth Homes - Highlights
Our newest resident, Joseph, is eager to get his life back on track, as he will be turning 18 soon. Our amazing team has been bringing KYJO’s vision to life for Joseph by creating different opportunities for a better way of life.
Joseph began embracing his new opportunities by preparing for future job interviews. Our Executive Director went out to Joseph’s home and assisted him with preparations – such as learning how to tie a tie for mock interviews. During his mock interview, Joseph disclosed that he loves washing cars. Hearing this, our Executive Director reached out to a former KYJO counselor, Elijah Surall, to ask whether he was taking on interns for his auto detailing business, The Lion’s Den Detailing .
Elijah was happy to help take Joseph under his wing and teach him everything he needed to know about the business. It was through this experience that Joseph learned the importance of relationships in life!
– Marilyn Cantu, Admissions Coordinator
Foster Family Agency - Highlights
This month, our Foster Family Agency team had a booth at Big Hat Days in Old Town Clovis. This community event provided our staff with the opportunity to talk to community members about the need for foster families in the Central Valley.
We had many families stop by our booth throughout the weekend, and our staff were able to answer questions about how the foster care system works and how we work with families to get their homes approved to take in children in need.
We had over 15 families interested in attending an orientation with KYJO. From those 15 families, four attended our orientation. We are so thankful for the opportunity to participate in community events to help spread the word about the need for foster families and to share our mission and vision with our community.
– Sienna Curtin, FFA Operations Manager
Mental Health Care - Highlights
Let’s talk about self-care, and how important taking time for yourself is for your mind, body, and soul (especially in our line of work). Working with youth is very rewarding in many ways, but at the end of the day, we are often drained, burned out, and just plain tired. We’re then less able to handle the stresses that come our way, as we’re already depleted by physical and emotional exhaustion.
We are more resilient and more able to handle stress when we are feeling our best both physically and emotionally. Self-pampering will relax you and prevent chronic stress that can damage your health. People who forget to nurture themselves are in danger of deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and feelings of resentment. Taking time to care for yourself will allow you to take better care of others!
There are several different ways to focus on self-care. You can make time to get enough sleep, prioritize healthy eating, block off some leisure time in your schedule, and make time for friends. Some other simple self-care ideas are warm bubble baths with candles, listening to relaxing music, and getting a massage from an experienced masseuse or a loved one. Any of these things can help you escape the stresses of reality and give your mind a vacation.
As you are on that mental vacation, enjoy the state of mental relaxation and take some time for self-reflection. Don’t be ashamed to take time for yourself, focus on mental relaxation, and share what you enjoy with your loved ones.
-Oscar Perez, Case Manager
In Times of Struggle, Trust Your Process
When we’re in the middle of a struggle, either personally, financially, or career-wise, life can feel like a treadmill. It feels like everything that CAN go wrong IS going wrong, and there’s no way through to the other side.
In times like these, it’s important to BE PATIENT and trust not only yourself, but your process. Everyone has a process for overcoming life’s obstacles – for growing, adapting, and succeeding. You might not know exactly what your own process is, you might not recognize it unless someone explained it to you, but you do have one!
So if you are going through a tough time, it’s time to REFLECT on your process. If you design your life, and your response to life’s hardships, deliberately, you’ll soon understand that you can make it through ANYTHING – as long as you’re willing to work hard, persist, and trust your process.