Students recognized for achievements during difficult times

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Members of Community Outreach Ministry attend Riverside County Office of Education’s “Year of our Youth” address, including Bob Davies, left, co-founder and president; Yolanda Burgess, treasurer; Mona Davies, middle right, co-founder and director, and Donna Barkley, coordinator. Valley News/Community Outreach Ministry photo

WILDOMAR – Riverside County superintendent Judy D. White, Ed.D., spoke at the March 5 State of Education Address luncheon. White discussed the Riverside County Office of Education’s “Year of our Youth: Beacon of our Destiny” accomplishments. Those in attendance included educators, businesses, government, civic, faith-based and community leaders. Also celebrating the student’s achievements at the luncheon was Community Outreach Ministry, a nonprofit organization focused on giving at-risk children a second chance to be winners and champions. The group’s mission is to help break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, drugs, violence, delinquency, gangs and incarceration in at-risk youth affected by parental incarceration.

The “Year of our Youth” luncheon recognized both students and teachers along with other faculty members who were instrumental in guiding youth to prepare for the workforce and for college as well as deepen their understanding of the importance of civic responsibility. Community Outreach Ministry co-founder Mona Davies, author of “Children’s Liberation from Incarceration Breaking Cycles New Beginnings” recommended Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration Model that she developed through a social science research project using the personal stories of children, caregivers and incarcerated parents as co-researchers.

At the luncheon, students shared stories of achievement, determination and inspiration. Their stories were also featured in the Riverside County Office of Education’s 2020 Report to the Community. The report highlighted successes of many students including Sophia Barranco, a Starlight Elementary School student.

The Riverside County Office of Education presents the “Year of our Youth: Beacon of our Destiny” State of Education address luncheon, March 5. Valley News/Community Outreach Ministry photo
Education, business, government, civic, faith-based and community leaders attend “Year of our Youth: Beacon of our Destiny” State of Education Address Luncheon. Valley News/Community Outreach Ministry photo
Mona Davies, left, Community Outreach Ministry co-founder and director, and Marilyn Brown, board member of Lake Elsinore Unified School District, of the district’s Student And Family Essential Resources Program Community Collaborative attend the Riverside County State of Education Address. Valley News/Community Outreach Ministry photo
At the Riverside County State of Education Address, Mary Martinez-Zayas, left, social services coordinator of Lake Elsinore Unified School District and Mona Davies, co-founder and director of Community Outreach Ministry, pose for a photo in honor of the district’s Student And Family Essential Resources Program. Valley News/Community Outreach Ministry photo

“It feels like we are still in school,” Barranco said in a press release. “We still have the connection with our teachers to be able to ask questions,” commenting on the COVID-19 pandemic that directed nationwide school closures and distance learning.

“We are still learning, just in a new environment with social distancing.

“I’m going to be able to share with my grandkids or kids (an explanation of) everything that happened during a pandemic,” Barranco said. “So that they can be grateful for the things they have. It helps me to be grateful and focus on things in the future.”

Community Outreach Ministry is involved in community events throughout the year and recently participated at the Lake Elsinore Unified School District’s Student And Family Essential Resources Programs Community Collaborative at Ortega High School in February. Community Outreach Ministry serves students in the Riverside County school system offering practicums for hands-on workshops such as “Gearing Up For STEM” Mentor Protégé Workshops where protégé’s learn basic robotic assembly with their mentors and “Children’s Creative Art” Mentor Protégé Workshops where children create art objects using recycled materials and Mod Podge taught by Cynthia K. Duran of Sewing Stories. The “Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration” Mentor Protégé Workshops provides adults with resources to access comprehensive support services to meet their children’s needs for developing better outcomes at home, in school and in the community.

Year-round camping activities are also sponsored by the ministry and provide youth with social and life skills along with learning boundaries for safety. Children gain a sense of belonging and acceptance as they gain a sense of purpose and inspiration. At the ministry’s annual Angel Tree Christmas Party, at-risk youth receive holiday gifts and engage with role models from The California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officers and firefighters do show and tell demonstrating safety and share about their explorer programs to inspire youth to consider future careers in law enforcement and firefighters.

Community Outreach Ministry welcomes, volunteers, sponsors and champions to invest in at-risk kids to help lower their risk and raise their expectations for a brighter future through mentoring workshops, camping activities and Christmas gift scholarships. Donations may be given online at https://www.communityoutreachministry.org. Or, send text to “DONATE CHAMPIONS” to 609-212-0627. You will receive a text back with a link to a page where you can donate. For more information call 951-698-7650 or email info@communityoutreachministry.org.

Submitted by Community Outreach Ministry.