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It is already Thanksgiving!  Time seems to accelerate as the holiday season sweeps us up into a flurry of shopping, family, friends, and travelling. Before it gets too busy, we wanted to send a quick update on all that is happening within the program, and share a personal story of one of our current participants.

Right now, we have about five individuals who show up consistently to our four classes each week. All have very unique stories of unfortunate life circumstances that led them to our program. One of them,  Rachel (name changed for privacy), was labeled with a learning disability by her school and placed in special needs classes. This decision effectively bars her from any meaningful learning experience and the chance to graduate with a diploma on time. Rachel came to us, bored and disheartened, troubled with her family situation and the abuse that had taken place in her short fifteen years of life.

Rachel’s mother maintained a promiscuous lifestyle and raised her, for the first ten years of her life, in a crack house. It wasn’t until she was 10 years old that her aunt took her in to live with her and 11 others in her 900 square foot home, where she has been living ever since. As a result of her premature exposure to addiction and promiscuity, Rachel started dressing inappropriately in her pre-teen and early teen years and began making poor decisions with friends and lost all motivation in school.

Natividad and the rest of the From Gangs to Jobs team immediately felt compassion towards Rachel and Natividad and Jenny took her in under their wing, checking in continually and offering her home cooked meals. Natividad has visited her school several times to make sure she goes to class and has even bought pizza for her entire class to encourage her to keep going. Sometimes this is the only real meal these students get for the day. Natividad has met with the school administrators to ask them to review her case and incentivize her to graduate on time.

In our program, we have spent hours patiently teaching Rachel how to read and write in addition to the normal curriculum. Jenny and other generous women managed to raise enough money to take Rachel shopping at Goodwill to purchase several new outfits—teaching her how to dress with confidence, modesty, and professionalism. Last week, Rachel gave her life to Christ. She now has a new perspective and hope. Rachel plans to join the JobCore program and will work over the next months to develop a routine and become a more disciplined individual. She has shown her teachers notable progress in both reading and writing. At fifteen years old, Rachel has endured more difficulty than many face in a lifetime. We are proud of the progress she has made so far and are committed to helping her accomplish her goals as she inspires others through her perseverance and faith.

We continue to make great strides in the town of Guadalupe and have seen many lives impacted by the From Gangs to Jobs program and our wonderful volunteers and financial supporters. Thank you so much for your support. We would not be able to do what we do without your faithfulness.

God bless you this holiday season. Don’t let the busyness of the holidays drown out your thoughts for the less fortunate. Join us in showing love to our neighbors in South Phoenix and Guadalupe. If you are interested in helping Natividad teach class or mentoring one of these individuals, please reach out to us via the contact page. Natividad will also be handing out donated turkeys to less fortunate families tonight through Thursday. If you are interested in joining him, please fill out the contact form and Natividad will respond directly.

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