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The EOYDC has been a godsend for many of the troubled youth in Oakland for many years now. They have changed the outcome of many lives that were predetermined based on the simple fact of just living in East Oakland. Temptations like drugs and gangs surround our youth everyday. I know first hand how trouble can pursue young people these days. I was born and raised throughout Oakland and grew up in a single parent home with no father figure until I was 12. At the EOYDC, I have gained guidance through mentoring, education, employment, and a love for cooking and music through the Home Alone Cooking and Steelpan Music classes. Being in the cooking class allowed me to be able to make my own after school snacks, breakfast, and learn about the importance of healthy food. My brother and I were interviewed by CNN television. They wanted to see how and what kind of snacks latchkey kids prepared when they came home from school.
I learned to love many music styles because of the music class. I began playing piano and after a while started my own jazz group at the EOYDC. The name of our band was “JAM” (using first initials of our first names), comprised of myself Jason, my brother Andre, and a friend Michael. With the help of the EOYDC, JAM was able to experience many different opportunities. JAM was chosen to compete in a national contest for instrumental trios. We were given an all expense paid trip to Florida and performed on a princess cruise ship. This trip and experience was one of the many opportunities I shared with my brother and other friends at the EOYDC.
After graduation from Fremont High School in 2001, I received a grant the following year to attend Humboldt State. I was at state for a year and half, before I realized that it was not what I wanted. I tried many other jobs before I knew that I wanted to be a professional truck driver. I have been driving for three years, got married, currently raising a family and feeling blessed for the experiences that EOYDC gave me when I had no direction. EOYDC showed me my true potential as an African American male.