SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Members of the Sacramento anti-gun violence program, Advance Peace, are now helping the families of the kids they mentor by buying them groceries at a time when they might need it most.
Julius Thibodeaux, a Strategy Program Manager for Advance Peace Sacramento, and his fellow mentors are spending some of their afternoon — that they would have normally been mentoring at-risk youth across the city — shopping for the families of the teens in their Advance Peace program.
The group has been on the hunt for food, water, hygiene products and, yes, even toilet paper.
"It was a no-brainer for us," Thibodeaux said as they continue to "make sure that our young people aren't enduring any more unnecessary stress."
The program matches at-risk youth living in disadvantaged neighborhoods with elders who have lived similar lives. The mentors are often felons like Thibodeaux, who spent 23 years behind bars before turning his life around.
Thibodeaux, like many of the other mentors, had a previous life that offers an insight that others don't have when it comes to swaying the youth away from gun violence and gang culture.
"A lot of the time, it's just important to show these young men and women that someone cares about them," he said.
The recent grocery purchases are possible because of grant money that was initially slated to use for trips and events that were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, they've been able to help about 35 of their families in need.
Rebecca Person, a parent in South Sacramento who received some of the groceries said, "We would be in a big world of hurt if we didn't have that help."
Person's son has been involved in Advance Peace Sacramento since he got into trouble at school, she said.
Her family received about $350 worth of groceries. Now with their freezer full and pantry overflowing, they'll be set for a little while longer.
"I had a son come home from college, I have my 13-year-old and 16-year-old," Person explained. "That really fills a big need that we had, because who wants to be stuck at home but then you don't have any food?"
Follow the conversation on Facebook with Lena Howland.
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