Monthly NewslettersKYJO Youth Leadership March 2019 Newsletter Featured


As we roll through March, mental health care is foremost on our minds. Our journey toward converting into a Short-Term Residential Treatment Program has taught us that we need to look at some aspects of our program through a different lens, and be open-minded enough to think differently. But also, we need to encourage ourselves and others to think about what effect mental health care truly has.

Most of us want to make a difference in the lives of others, but we don’t always take the time to make a difference in our own lives. Too many times, we ignore past trauma or experiences that affect the way we live our lives. When we do this, we’re doing a disservice to not only ourselves, but those we are trying to serve! If we haven’t healed from our past trauma, the triggers associated with those events will start to manifest in ways we might not be able to anticipate.

This is why it’s highly important that you take care of yourself first! You need to combine self-care, self-love, self-management, and self-motivation into a sense of self-awareness, and you need to address any lingering past trauma. If you recognize what’s going on within yourself, you can begin to control how you respond to forces and events outside your control.

Special thanks to all the KYJO staff members who have made the self-care mentality a part of their everyday life. It starts with us, and it WILL lead to our youth following suit.

Partner Spotlight

The Playground Training Academy

KYJO Playground Workout Partnership

Lamont Nash, CEO of The Playground Training Academy, has partnered with us to provide our youth with fun-filled fitness workouts! These sessions help our kids release their pent-up energy and relieve some of the stress life can bring upon them.

The workouts take place inside an urban-designed fitness facility that resembles a playground. Lamont offers this program to all foster youth, foster parents, and any other underserved individuals through his Overcomers program, which makes this “playtime” affordable for all our community’s kids.

You can check out The Playground Training Academy’s website by clicking here, and you can learn more about Lamont’s personal story on YouTube by clicking here. Lamont was a foster youth himself and overcame a great deal of childhood trauma. He has shown that it can be done if you don’t give up! We truly appreciate Lamont’s partnership with us, and the way that he shows youth how, no matter where they stand in life, they can make anything happen if they have the will and desire to do so!

KYJO Rock Star Award

Jeimy Manzanares KYJO Residential Life Skills Program

This Month’s Rock Stars: Jasmin Sierra and Jeimy Manzanares

Two excellent KYJO staff members earned this month’s Rock Star awards!

The first award goes to a recent addition to our team – FFA Social Worker Jasmin Sierra. Jasmin embodies the KYJO beliefs, including the abilities to Adapt to Change, Concentrate on the Little Things, and Pay Attention to Details. When asked a question, Jasmin tells you the answer you NEED to hear – not just the answer you WANT to hear. She’s a truly talented social worker, and we know she has what it takes to do big things in her career. While she’s been with us only a few months, we know that with her fantastic attitude, she’s going to continue to shine!

This month’s second Rock Star, Jeimy Manzanares, came back from maternity leave last month and got straight back into the swing of things. Jeimy oversees our Residential life skills program, a position which benefits from her knowledge-seeking and understanding attitude. She provides the motivation and inspiration our kids need to seek an understanding of their current needs and take action to achieve their goals.

Jeimy makes this all possible by always striving to find the “why” in difficult situations, communicating effectively, and working as an effective (and positive) team player. Even in the short month of February, her return has already made a tremendous impact on both our youth and staff. Jeimy has truly been making a difference, and that’s why she’s one of this month’s Rock Stars!

Residential Youth Homes - Highlights

On March 2, our residents were blessed with the opportunity to spend a day inside Fresno City Hall, where they participated in the city’s 10th annual Youth Leadership Conference.  The kids took part in a number of workshops and activities designed to help them develop vocational skills, and they were also blessed to hear from up-and-coming motivational speaker, Dwight Taylor, Sr.

Dwight also had a tough upbringing, but he didn’t let that discourage him. At the age of 35, he wrote his first book (titled Domin8 Your Day), and told our youth what it takes to become a TRUE leader! We’re so thankful the City of Fresno invited us in to take part in this positive experience.

– Marilyn Cantu, Admissions Coordinator

Foster Family Agency - Highlights

Shatara Cole Resource Parent KYJO Fresno

Shatara Cole started working as a KYJO Child Care Counselor in 2016. Thanks in part to her experience working in our group homes, Shatara and her husband, Ronald Caldwell, decided to become resource parents themselves. They started by taking in two children, and after a few months of being resource parents, the couple decided to move into a bigger house – so they could open their home to more children.

Shatara and Ronald currently care for two boys (ages 5 and 6) and two girls (ages 9 and 10). They also have two children of their own (ages 5 and 8). Shatara is a full-time stay at home mom who ensures that all her children’s needs are met. We are so thankful for Ronald and Shatara, and everything they do to go above and beyond for our KYJO kids.

– Sienna Curtin, FFA Operations Manager

Mental Health Care - Highlights

KYJO Mental Health Care Team

When people hear the words “mental health,” many things come to mind. More often than not, negative connotations follow.

I’ve never understood why so much negativity surrounds these words. In fact, many people tend not to seek out mental health services because they think that others might think they’re “crazy”. This shouldn’t be the case, especially because our mental health is simply another part of ourselves that we have to take care of. Just as we go to the doctor and to the gym to take care of our physical health, or go to church and meditate and pray to take care of our spiritual health, we need to understand that taking care of our mental health is just as important.

Neglecting our physical health and spiritual health can lead to negative consequences, not taking care of our mental health will also lead to negative consequences. We, as a society, need to encourage our children and youth to be more open about their mental health. We need to educate them about the importance of their mental health. But most importantly, we need to stop stigmatizing mental health and attaching negative connotations to it. There is nothing wrong with taking care of our mental health. There shouldn’t be shame behind wanting a better version of ourselves – a healthier version of ourselves. Our children and youth should be free to play, grow, and enjoy life to the fullest with all health aspects flourishing within their lives.

I believe that the more we talk about our mental health the less negative statistics (and connotations) there will be surrounding it. Instead of looking at it as something negative, we must become allies and stop the stigma. We need to support those that are trying to get better. We need to embrace the words mental health.

-Oscar Perez, Case Manager

Monthly Motivation

Pay Attention to Yourself

For this month’s motivation, I want to remind you that you are in control of your own life. That what you think becomes reality. So don’t get trapped in your own head, and don’t dwell on negativity. Instead, pay attention to the traits and behaviors that are stopping you from accomplishing your goals – and then take active steps to change them.

Remember, you have control! And if you pay attention to and believe in yourself, I know you can accomplish whatever it is you want to achieve.


Kevin Jordan

Executive Director

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