I arrived at Santa Ana College at 7 am this last Saturday to be a part of a year long collaboration between Orange County Juvenile Probation, Catholic and Protestant Detention, UYWI and some other gang specialist organizations. We hosted almost 200 leaders for the “Lives Worth Saving” Gang Summit. It was truly a day to remember for all of us involved. Our goal was to bring awareness of the gang issues facing Orange County and let the faith community here from our civic leaders that they are in need a help. The number of teenagers locked up currently in Orange County for murder or attempted murder is 73, which has risen from 50 when our collaboration started. The room was alive with energy as people shared best practices, challenged the faith community to partner with probation and laid out small and large steps to becoming part of the solution. This was a landmark day, but as a part of the faith community it is our responsibility to not let this end here, but to be determined to do what is necessary to reach out to save lives that are so worth saving before they become another statistic in the system and leave another family victimized in the community.
Next week, we host another training on working with gangs and are developing a network of gang specialists that will be offering practical classes and relationships to increase the number of people in the faith community who are equipped to make a difference. Please let us know if you are interested in more training on this issue as we move forward together.