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Hello my name is Chanadoll Garret, and I would just like to share with everyone my wonderful experiences I’ve encountered at the East Oakland Youth Development Center. I started at the EOYDC in the summer of 1995 intending just to check out the scenery. However, when I stepped through the structure of the Center I was thrown for a loop. This was definitely something different than what I was used to seeing. Security guards standing in front of the door greeting each individual and a mandatory sign in and out sheet sitting at the front office. I thought to myself, “This is the model center for me, let me check it out”. After speaking with one of the staff members I was enthused, and I wanted to become a member right away. From there I signed up for the many programs offered.
In the beginning of my high school years (1996-1997), I became extremely active with the Center. I joined the girls’ basketball team coached by Kwame Nitoto which later was coached by Rae Jackson. This team started with six girls (winning the EOYDC their first girls championship trophy) and we were called the Bay Area Magic’s that now have over 100 members consisting of male and females. I also played in several Mark Curry tournaments that were hosted by the EOYDC. In the summer I played for Castlemont’s basketball camp that was held at the Center. Because of my dedication to basketball I had the opportunity to conduct a basketball camp of my own for young girl’s ages 6-11. After playing for the EOYDC, I continued to be a success in sports, as well as in academics, at Fremont High School until my graduation in the summer of 1999.
Outside of my sports relationship with the EOYDC I was required to attend our women groups and attend a specified amount of hours in computer and job training classes. This was the backbone of my success because without knowledge one can only make it so far. This is where the EOYDC athletes were set apart from the rest. Our folks were talented and well educated. Here, this was a family and place you called home. The EOYDC gave me the discipline and structure I needed to carry on and further my education.
In the summer of 1999 I went on and continued my education at San Jose State University, starting the Summer Bridge Program. I focused on my studies on both Criminal Justice and Sociology, accruing my Bachelor’s of Science in both areas. After graduating from SJSU in fall 2004, I began working for the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation focusing directly on at-risk youth. I also continued my work in the group homes as a Direct Care Counselor, counseling a group of youth designated as neglected or potential at risk juvenile offenders.
Everyone should expose their children to the training and enrichment given at the EOYDC. This is what I call an afternoon of care. It’s the place where your child can go and be well taken care of, and taught a greater way of living. It is a place to gain knowledge and skills that will carry you through on path of life. I thank all those who are responsible for the EOYDC and those who I blame for my success.
UPDATE: Chanadoll is now interested in entering a school district counseling system, focusing her skills and experience on the youth in high schools.