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.

dream board

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