Backpacking to Point Reyes

Friday morning, February 22nd, Corpsmembers and staff met at Civicorps for our first annual overnight backpacking camping trip. We assigned backpacks, sleeping bags and pads, hiking boots, tents, warm layers, and evenly distributed food to pack into our 65 or 75 Liter backpacks. For most Corpsmembers and half the staff, this was their first time learning how to pack for a backpacking trip. (Thanks to Bay Area Wilderness Training for supplying all the gear!)

Our campsite, Coast Camp, was located at Point Reyes National Seashore, located in Northern California’s Marin County. Most of us hiked the 1.9 mile Fire Lane trail, while four Corpsmembers and staff hiked up to the peak of Mount Wittenberg, 6 miles to the Coast Campground. A steep and strenuous hike, Corpsmembers were not phased and took on the challenge by jogging the trail.

Upon arriving, we set up camp, assembled our tents and started on our dinner. Full of bean and corn soup, we built a campfire on the Santa Maria Beach, where we bonded over s’mores, stories, and epic endless rounds of Mafia!

“My favorite part of the trip was the bonfire and the hike, and having a raccoon steal my pants! But we found them!”Malajah, Corpsmember

 “My favorite part of the trip was hiking 6 miles, 9 by the end of the trip. I also ate vegan food!”Joshua, Corpsmember

 “Coming together as a community and having fun, playing Mafia on the beach, and having some giggles, that was fun!”Kevin, Corpsmember

The following morning, we woke up to a frost-covered campsite. Temperatures were in the 30s, but a nice hot pot of water helped warm our stomachs with coffee and tea, oatmeal, and for some, a cup of noddle soup. As the sun rose, we walked over to the beach, where many of us swam in the freezing waters of the Pacific Ocean. By noon, we were on our way back out 3 miles on the Coast Trail.

A beautiful trip, we enjoyed the sight of wildlife including an elephant seal, deer, and many wild birds. This weekend was a moment to destress, connect with nature, and allow for spiritual healing. This trip would not have been possible without Civicorps’ fierce leaders, Lauren, Civicorps’ Resource Specialist and Steven, Job Training Coordinator!

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Reconnecting Youth Campaign

Unleashing Limitless Potential

Yesterday, Civicorps Corpsmembers, alumni, staff, and community partners conducted a meeting at the Oakland offices of Congresswoman Barbara Lee. We were thrilled to help represent constituents of California’s 13th congressional district in legislative advocacy with the Reconnecting Youth Campaign. The RYC is a collaborative national campaign calling on Congress to invest in America’s future by funding 1 million pathways to education, training, national service and employment opportunities for youth ages 16-24 who are neither working nor in school.

We met with Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s District Director, Press Secretary and a Congressional Aide, and shared information about the opportunities Civicorps creates for youth. Corpsmembers and alumni shared their personal journeys of success and the benefits of programs like Civicorps.

For over 35 years, Civicorps has provided vital services to disconnected youth, by re-engaging young adults to earn their high school diploma, gain job skills, pursue college and embark on family sustaining careers.

One startling statistic we shared with the Congresswoman’s staff: in our Congressional district, 7,096 Opportunity Youth have been separated from pathways to productive adulthood. These young people seek opportunities to provide for themselves and their families, and their talents offer an untapped opportunity to contribute to our community and economy. Even more staggering to note: nationally, 4.6 million youth lack these pathways to success, and federal funding only reached about 350,000 youth in 2017-18.

Existing programs like Civicorps address the multiple barriers faced by Opportunity Youth and offer unique approaches and program models to reconnect them with education, job training skills and employment opportunities.

We’re grateful for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s longstanding leadership on behalf of the youth of Oakland and Alameda County.  We’re delighted to be able to participate in the Reconnecting Youth Campaign, calling for increased funding for existing programs with demonstrated success.

Help spread the word, call or tweet at your Member of Congress and ask them to support funding for Opportunity Youth!

RYC_Oakland_Mont..01.9b Music/sound remix from Lowdownhaus / Thayer N. Walker on Vimeo.

The RYC interviewed our Corpsmembers for a forthcoming video about Opportunity Youth in this congressional district.  This video of alumni Samantha Vitti and Bethany Rivard (now a Civicorps staff member) is an example of more to come.

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Civicorps Ski Trip 2019

What do you get when you have a detective, an angel, 3 mafiosos, and a cabin full of Corpsmembers? Mafia! This party game of deception, intuition and storytelling was so much fun during this year’s Civicorps weekend ski trip.

This past weekend Corpsmembers partook in Civicorps’ annual ski trip. Six Corpsmembers, 4 staff including Civicorps’ Jesuit Volunteers, and 7 Environmental Traveling Companions Guides and volunteers shared a cabin in Arnold, CA, and cross country skied at Big Trees State Park. It was the first time Corpsmembers experienced the snow.

“My favorite part of the weekend was seeing snow. I’ve only seen snow on TV. I’ve also never skied and falling was my favorite part. Everyone kept a smile on their face as they tried their best. Thank you to the ETC staff and volunteers for making this possible.” – CP, Corpsmember

The weekend forecasted a winter storm, however the excitement of being in the outdoors did not prevent our Corpsmembers from staying indoors. We suited up in our ski gear and went out in the cold to experience something new.

“I’m really impressed with everyone’s attitude. This was a huge storm. Nine out of 10 groups ETC hosts would have stayed away. But everyone’s attitude was great, and we made it a great weekend with 3 feet of snow. My favorite moment was when we reached the split (halfway to our destination), and everyone wanted to keep going.” – Jake, ETC Winter Program Leader

“The ski lesson on the parking lot was my favorite moment. It was so hard, folks were crisscrossing their skis and falling. But people were smiling. Even when Jake kept recommending to take off the skis, [Corpsmembers] were determined to stay on them and learn.” – Naseem, ETC Winter Program Volunteer

After a long day of skiing, we returned to the cabin where we made dinner and engaged in fun activities like Mancala and Apples to Apples. One of the most popular games that everyone liked was Mafia. Folks were passionate and really got to share in their story telling abilities.

“My favorite moment of the weekend was meeting everyone and playing Mafia. That’s the best game I’ve ever played.” – Rakeem, Corpsmember

When Sunday morning came, we were snowed in and the power went out due to a falling tree on the highway. During that time, Corpsmembers went sledding, while staff and volunteers shoveled snow. We finally made it out and arrived safely back to Oakland. This weekend would not have been possible without the support of ETC’s volunteers and guides. We thank them for welcoming us to their cabin and making it a home for us. It’s always a pleasure bringing our Corpsmember out of the town and into the outdoors.

See more photos on our Facebook Page!

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A glimpse at our December 2018 graduates

Join Civicorps’ December 13th Class of 2018 Graduation Ceremony at the Oakland Museum of California | RSVP

Moniqué 

By graduating, I am proving to myself that “si se puede, YES YOU CAN!”

Even though it’s taken me longer than planned, I am graduating, which is something that my parents and many of my family weren’t able to accomplish. I am grateful for the obstacles I’ve encountered because I have learned and grown from them to become independent, a better partner, and a leader. Having that diploma in my hand is a representation of my drive to succeed.

I am grateful for my partner Lamont. He and I started Civicorps together, and are graduating together. He is my rock as I am to his. Mr. Dunn (Dean of Students) has always said that we would be a distraction to each other, but that just fueled our want to succeed and prove him wrong. And we did it! For that I am also grateful for Mr. Dunn.

I plan to enroll in college, take business courses and dive into my entrepreneurial personality. I have dreams of getting my cosmetology certificate and a Bachelor degree in business administration. Then… embark in several of my start up ideas that includes a beauty skincare line… but for now, I want to enjoy the bliss of graduating, walk on stage wearing my high heels, glitter and make up!

 

Nuk

I first came to Civicorps in 2013, took a break in 2014 and came back in 2017. It’s been a journey to finally reach it to the end and receive my high school diploma.  I am grateful for the support I received at Civicorps and for finally seeing a best version of myself here.

One of my proudest moments while at Civicorps was when I won an award for an art piece I submitted to the ACLU. I love art, and have a talent for it. People know me as an artist, which at first, was hard for me to acknowledge. But when your passion is being recognized by others, it really makes you believe in it.

I am grateful today to have even been commissioned to do art work for others.  Who knows, maybe in the distant future I will have an art show. It’s all about perseverance, staying on track of your goals and fighting against your adversities. And that’s what I will continue to do.

I am setting an example to my family by crossing that stage and receiving my high school diploma. I want my son to know that his father will always work hard and will continue to achieve my dreams for him to be proud of.

Sandi

My oldest daughter came home from school one day and asked me if I went to college. It hurt me to say that I didn’t even graduate from high school. It was in this moment when I realized that I needed to be more of an example for my kids and show them that they should not settle for less.

I want opportunities to open up. I want to give them everything my parents didn’t give me. When I walk the stage to receive my high school diploma, I will tell my daughter that this diploma is for her. Going through Civicorps I have seen opportunities present themselves that I would have never seen staying at home. My education will continue, and I will not stop until I have achieved an Associate’s certification and a Bachelor’s degree.

I have two chainsaw certifications from Civicorps, not too many woman have earned that. I currently am a Customer Service Intern at Civicorps. From being in the field, to working behind a desk, I am capable of anything.

Tony

I am one of few Civicorps students that is graduating within a year, 10 months to be exact. That itself is something I am very proud of.

Growing up I was on track to graduate high school and go on to a 4 year university. But ever since 9th grade, I knew traditional school was not for me. I was bored, unmotivated, and felt unsupported. My parents always had the need to compare me to others. And it was these expectations that ultimately made me give up on myself.

Civicorps was my choice to try something new and on my own terms. It was here that I got to be independent and not have to feel like a failure. My teachers really believed in me and that’s what motivated me to begin thinking about the future and pursuing the things I want to do.

I am happy I will continue to remain part of this community as I complete a one year internship at Civicorps. In the fall of 2019, I will be enrolling in college studying biochemistry. My goal is to teach science and maybe become a science teacher at Civicorps. If I put my mind on it, stay focused, I know I can accomplish it.

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Health and Wellness Fair 2018

Civicorps once again had a successful Health and Wellness Fair sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. Many thanks to our guest presenters SambaFunk for energizing Corpsmembers with African dance; Rose Sharon Oates for guiding students in the practice of stress-relieving methods; Beneficial State Bank for advising in financial management; Good Vibrations for promoting positive and safe sexuality; and Civicorps staff for facilitating holistic self-care and healthy eating workshops!

110 Corpsmembers participated in the day’s activities. Thanks to our sponsor, a healthy breakfast was also provided. Throughout the day, Corpsmembers participated in 6 workshops and a scavenger hunt that ended with prizes including Safeway and Starbucks gift cards, Clipper Cards and trips to Chuck E. Cheese and Good Vibrations.

All Corpsmembers received valuable information in health wellness. We thank all staff who helped make this possible! We look forward to the next Health and Wellness Fair in 2019!

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Four June grads share what they look forward to after graduation!

ANTOINE

My teacher at Bridge Academy knew that I wasn’t going to graduate on time and connected me to Mr. Dunn, the Dean of Students at Civicorps. Mr. Dunn is one of the most influential people who finally made me realize my potential. He pushed my buttons, allowed me to be competitive with my academics, and prove that I could do it. At Civicorps, I really found a place where I got to focus.

I didn’t think graduating would have been possible. I even told my friend I am going to shed a tear when I walk the stage at graduation. My high school diploma will mean everything for me. I see my friends graduating from here and I know it’s going to make my mom proud. I can’t wait to look at Mr. Dunn with my diploma. I am going to be so excited and tell him “I love you. You got me here.”

“If basketball doesn’t work, I want to study law and be a lawyer. I just have to remember to always focus on me!”

BRENDA

I didn’t think graduating would be possible. I went through some hard stuff in high school, traumatizing events that distracted me from my education.

But when my little brother Angel was born, it changed my life for the better. My mother needed help taking care of him and for the first six months of his life, I became like his mother. He is the angel who came to make a difference. This was around the time that I signed up for Civicorps.

In my time at Civicorps, I have improved my communication skills, which landed me a job as a receptionist at a dentist office where I meet with different types of people. Being at Civicorps, I have really focused on me, which may sound selfish, but in doing so I was able to see what really matters in my life. I’ve stayed positive with my goals. I hope to work with technology and one day obtain my X-ray technician license. It’s where I see myself growing and learning professionally. Maybe someday I’ll have my own practice.

“Angel gave me a purpose: because of him I changed the bad influences in my life and focused on me. I stayed positive. I struggled but always came back to finish strong.”

ANTHONY

Three years ago, my mother brought me to Civicorps. When I got here, I knew that graduating was possible, but I did have trouble believing that.

The staff here showed me tough love. They saw me and allowed me to believe in myself. I became a Crew Leader at the Job Training Center, which in turn allowed me to grow as an individual. I have learned a lot about myself and my potential to do great things. It’s been a rewarding experience.

I want to tell new students to keep trying, no matter how hard it will be and how long it will take… keep trying! Civicorps has taken me farther than I ever believed I could be. And now I am excited for future job opportunities in welding or construction. Things are going in the right direction, and I look forward to my next steps in life.

“Being humble and being patient is what I am taking away from Civicorps. I learned a lot, but being quiet really made me see a different side of things.”

DAISHA

I enrolled at Civicorps in October 2016. It took me a while to really convince myself that I was ready to take this step. I had to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, “Yes! You are ready!”

Growing up I didn’t have a lot of support. I was moving a lot, which always disrupted my education. The possibility of graduating really was a fairy tale. But my older brother helped changed that perspective. He made it to college, and then left for a while, but returned and graduated. Now he is a licensed police officer.

And when I became pregnant with my baby Zane, I had a bigger reason to not give up on my education. So many people told me I couldn’t do it, but in my mind I kept telling myself that a baby can’t stop me! Now I am one week away from graduating. I want my son to be next to me when I walk the stage. He is my reason for getting my education and creating a positive future for our family.

“I plan to go to Laney for my associate’s degree, and then take business classes at a 4 year university. In 10 years I hope to have a nail tech business, a reliable job that will provide my son a clear path for his education.”

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