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I first was introduced to E.O.Y.D.C. in 1994. That year the Center started a program called Hope VI. The program targeted young men and women from the ages of 13-17. It was designed to teach young people the way to get a job, gain work experience, and be leaders and positive role models in our community. I am very thankful that I was elected to be a part of this program. I learned so much that will take me so far in life and being successful. While in the three year program, I graduated from computer class, got a CPR certificate, and gained valuable skills on job searching and how to conduct myself properly in an interview. We also put together a beautification team and went out into the community cleaning and beautifying our neighborhood. We went into some of the most dangerous areas in our city, places like 69 village, 85th village, all up and down E. 14th St from Seminary to the 100’s, and cleaned those area. We did landscaping, picking up trash, passing out flyers, and other valuable information. We learned about soil testing and how to make planter boxes. We did anti graffiti projects and even painted a mural in the gym. This was lots of fun because it was a surprise to Ms. Regina and it made us very proud. It is still there to this day!
I must say by far, this is one of the best centers in Oakland for a youth to come and get education (physically and mentally), moral support from mentors, and a part of a family setting where one can feel loved. In this day and time that is probably one of the most important things that a youth needs growing up in a society where an adolescent is easily influenced by peer pressure. That’s why when school was out, I was rushing to E.O.Y.D.C., to a place where I felt I was wanted, needed, and had a sense of family love.
Being a part of E.O.Y.D.C. is like being a part of a great legacy. From time to time famous people like Mark Curry, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and other stars, that were like started off in E.O.Y.D.C. where a seed was planted and grew to be successful individuals because of the love and positive influence the center brought.
Due to the experience and leadership skills I learned at E.O.Y.D.C., I was able to go ahead and obtain a job with the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation, Oakland Public School District, where I can share and spread the knowledge and love I gained from E.O.Y.D.C. The youth are now my focus; I think to make this world a better place we must plant a positive seed of love and care in as many youth as we can and our end result will be GREAT!
I graduated from Castlemont High School in 1997. I went on to attend Merritt College. My career goal is to own my own barbershop. I am the proud father of Isazhnay Ricks, nine years old. Hopefully she will come to love E.O.Y.D.C. as much as I do.
By Isaac Ricks