Redemption Of A Gang Member – Univision Special Report
Natividad Mendoza and From Gangs to Jobs was recently featured in a Special Report on Univision Arizona. Liliana Soto, a journalist at Univision, reports the work that Natividad does inside one of the Maricopa County Jails. To watch the entire segment, click the image below or Click Here!
From Gangs To Jobs, Reentry program seeks to help gang members who have been released from prison to provide education and assist them to re-enter society and think about a better future.
CBS 5 From Gangs to JobsIt’s here! The CBS 5 feature on From Gangs to Jobs. Todd McFarlane, legendary artist and McFarlane Toys founder shares his experience as an employer of FGTJ students. Please share this with your friends on social media to help further our mission. Please remember us in your end of year donations. Thanks Friends! http://www.fromgangs2jobs.com/contribute/
Posted by From Gangs To Jobs on Monday, December 21, 2015
Some exciting news for From Gangs to Jobs as we end the year: We will be featured this Thursday, December 10th at 9 pm on Channel 3 AZ and 10 pm on CBS 5 AZ!
As it turns out, a friend of Natividad and FGTJ, Todd McFarlane, was asked to do an interview with Channel 3 in Phoenix. Todd is one of the creators of Image Comics and the owner of McFarlane Toys and has been very successful in his field. Todd agreed to do the interview and asked that the interviewer include a bit on FGTJ as well. Channel 3 agreed.
Last week, Lina from Channel 3 & 5 news came down to our Guadalupe classroom to listen in on class. Afterwards, she interviewed Natividad and a past participant in the program. Lina was impacted by what she saw and told us afterwards that the interview would air on Channel 3 AZ and 5 CBS 5 AZ!
We are so grateful for the friendship of Todd and Wanda McFarlane and their faithful commitment to furthering our mission to ignite hope among the poor and broken. We are also thankful for Lina, who was a gracious interviewer and advocate for the work that we are doing.
Tune in this Thursday to Channel 3 AZ at 9 pm and CBS 5 AZ at 10 pm and you will hear stories of redemption and hope and more about some of the amazing things happening in the town of Guadalupe.
To celebrate our new website (well, relatively new), I thought I would share with you guys a very important component of what we do here at From Gangs to Jobs. It’s called the Dream Board Project. The dream board is the first major project we do because life transformation really depends on an individual’s perspective on life and what really drives that person in his or her inner being. If an individual has no dream and no vision for the future, that individual has no hope. And when an individual has no hope, that individual’s decisions are often foolish, short-sided and lead to serious consequences in the end. As the late Zig Ziglar rightly put it, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
Thus, our first step is to instill hope in the individuals coming through our program and we do this by having them create a dream board. The first step in creating a dream board involves taking some colored cardboard paper and piecing it into four quadrants (see pictures for an example of what it looks like finished). From a collection of old magazines, participants pick out a handful of phrases, symbols and photos which represent what their lives look like currently, what they envision their life will look like in 30 years and the journey in between (the 2 quadrants in the middle going left to right from the top are the “journey”). Each comprises one of the four quadrants and provides a visible path to success.
Above is Mark’s story (real name withheld for privacy purposes). Mark describes his life when he came to us in June 2014 in the left quadrant. Here you can see he first used barbwire to represent the bondage of gang life and the spider and the #6 to represent the symbols of his gang. The money and a skull describe Mark’s outlook on life: although he didn’t have money, he was willing to die trying to get it. The DOC and the knife represents being incarcerated for stabbing someone.
Moving to the top right quadrant, we can see books which represent how Mark plans to study and work hard to get the education necessary to be successful in his career. We see various Christian symbols signifying his desire to seek God and finally, pictures signifying his desire to build a resume and learn to be a leader and mentor for Christ.
The bottom left is all filled with images of what he believes the latter half of his journey to the 30-year destination will include. Here we see imagery of marriage, kids, and following God’s plan. Mark desires to marry his current girlfriend and have a family. He desires to be the best father there is and be a godly role model for his kids. It’s not incidental that the narrow wooded pathway is next to the peaceful meadow and stream of water in this quadrant. Mark recognizes that the path to following Jesus is narrow but leads to lasting peace and fulfillment much like the paradise-looking green meadow by the water.
Finally, the bottom right quadrant represents what legacy Mark hopes to leave looking back at his life in 30 years. He wants to be known as a giver, helping homeless people and other needy individuals. He also wants to mentor young kids much like the way Natividad is a mentor to him. The reputation photo represents what Mark wants to be known for: his great work ethic. Ultimately, Mark wants to leave a legacy of being a leader and be known for influencing others for Christ. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to envision a nice home and car in the mix either.
Today, Mark is well on his way to accomplishing these goals, working a full-time internship with another prominent non-profit organization serving the working poor of Phoenix. However, it all started with some cardboard paper, some magazine cut-outs and a heart full of dreams.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
As the hot summer weather begins to taper off and gives way to the beautiful Arizona fall, we wanted to give some useful information on a tax credit opportunity you do not want to let slip away this year. The Arizona Working Poor Tax Credit is a dollar for dollar tax credit that allows you to essentially divert your Arizona state tax dollars to working poor organizations like From Gangs to Jobs.
1. What is a tax credit? A tax credit is different from a tax deduction. A tax deduction reduces your taxable income whereas a tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of your tax liability. To put it simply, a tax credit means that for every dollar you are entitled to in tax credits, you pay one less dollar to the Arizona government. For those of you expecting a refund when you file your taxes, this translates into a dollar for dollar boost to your refund at the end of the year. Below is an example of what it looks like on the front page of your Arizona return when you give to a qualified organization (example is for a married filing jointly return).
Front page(s) of AZ tax return:
2. Can I take the credit in conjunction with other tax credits? In most cases, you are allowed to take the Arizona Working Poor Tax credit in addition to the public school & private school donation tax credits.
3. What is the Working Poor Tax Credit? In 1998, Arizona authorized a tax credit for eligible taxpayers who donate to qualified charitable organizations that seek to help meet the basic needs of the poor within Arizona communities. A maximum credit is available of $400 for married filing jointly families and up to a $200 credit is available for single individuals. From Gangs to Jobs is a qualified working poor 501(c)3 in Arizona.
4. Why give? In summary, by giving to a Working Poor charity like From Gangs to Jobs, you take hard-earned money you would have otherwise handed over as taxes to the Arizona government and give it to an organization that is directly impacting the lives of those in urban poor communities in the greater Phoenix area.
5. Next steps?
- Contact your tax professional or visit http://www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits/QualifyingCharitableOrganizations.aspx to make sure you qualify for the credit (more than likely you do!).
- Give by December 31st to take advantage of this amazing opportunity for the current year.
- Share this article with others so they have the ability to take part in making a difference.
- If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to use the contact form under “Contact Us” to get in touch with us! We will be more than happy to answer any questions to the best of our ability and get you the information you need.
Natividad was interviewed on 1360 FaithTalk Radio by Tom Brown. Here is the audio from his appearance.
In 2014, From Gangs to Jobs joined arms with the Town of Guadalupe on a number of things, one of them being we now offer our job skills development and placement program from within the Mercado (a central plaza in Guadalupe). A lot of great things are happening and the community has really embraced us as we look to love and serve the people of Guadalupe as our neighbors and friends. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Guadalupe, Guadalupe is a small town nestled between Phoenix and Tempe between Elliot and Baseline Road. According to the 2010 census, Guadalupe had a population of around 5500 and was founded in 1907 by the Yaqui Indians who fled Sonora after facing oppression from the Mexican government in their homeland (http://bit.ly/1zHjhbD).
On October 11, 2014, From Gangs to Jobs participated in the Guadalupe 2014 Unity Peace Walk. The primary purpose of the walk was to band together as a community to stand against violence of any kind and to promote peace. With a large group of individuals from the Guadalupe community and the communities surrounding Guadalupe, we trekked through the streets of Guadalupe with signs and symbols of peace. The walk ended at the Mercado where Natividad emceed the conclusion of the event which included a procession of various talks and acts which spoke of the incredible pain and disruption caused by domestic and random violence.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear about domestic and random violence, it’s most often through the news. Another horrific event has occurred and all I can do is hurt for the person on the other end of the story from afar and utter a prayer “God help them, heal them”. Here I could see the effects of violence on a community up close and personal. I saw a community hungry for change, hungry for peace. It was clear to me that the community of Guadalupe sees Natividad as a strong leader, an intercessor, and a symbol of hope and change. They see him as a testament to the fact that it is never too late to turn life around by God’s grace and work for the good of those around you.
As we end 2014, the future looks bright for the town of Guadalupe and many exciting things are still to come as we continue to invest our time and resources as an organization to working for change within. Will you consider standing with us to love and serve the town of Guadalupe and the broader city of Phoenix where we do most of our ministry? There are several ways to get involved either through volunteering time, financial donations, prayer and helping us tell our story by sharing From Gangs to Jobs with others. Click on the “Contribute” tab at the top of the page for information on how to donate time or resources.