PRO Youth & Families – Empowering the Youth Voice

Meet PRO’s Loud, Mighty, and Proud Youth!

On Big Day of Giving, May 3rd, 2018, PRO Youth & Families celebrated the power of the youth voice! Learn more about some of our amazing participants and their journey to develop their voice! If you missed Big Day of Giving, you can still help empower the youth voice in our community – click on the “donate” button below!

Meet Destinee – Discovering Her Voice as a Mentor to Elementary Students

Destinee Thrasher, a senior at Kennedy High School.  Destinee is a first time mentor and joined so she could make an impact in her community.

PRO Mentoring gives Destinee the chance to engage with community and guide younger students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.

“I joined to be an impact on little kids and help bring out people’s personalities.”

As a mentor, Destinee has the opportunity to take the lead and gain leadership experience.  Students get to plan and organize engaging programming and then implement it with their mentees.  More so, it offers a place where youth can share their unique voice.

“I think that overthinking things makes thing worse.  I always try to be positive because I know that’s what will come.”

Her positive energy and strong voice is imperative in creating engaging and purposeful programming with her mentees.  Even when leading programming we see that Destinee goes out of her way to put her spin on the lesson- making each activity unique to her.

We love giving our mentors the opportunity to create programming that is of importance to them.  Through their voice we can create programming that is built from a youth’s perspective.

Meet Csandra – Discovering Her Voice Through Youth @ City Council

Csandra Lorena, a junior at Cordova High School.  This Csandra’s second year participating in Youth @ City Council and she has proven that she is driven, hard-working and passionate about helping her community.

“I wanted to learn more about civics and local government.”

Our Youth @ City Council program encourages students to share their voice and point of view with the city in which they live.  In the past students have focused on themes that help make Rancho Cordova a more youth friendly city.

PRO encourages students to share their voice and gives them the tools to be knowledgeable and resourceful, so they can be the agents of change in their community.

Besides her work with Youth @ City Council, Csandra is involved in a variety of activities on her school’s campus including: The Sacramento Police Youth Program, secretary of the Cordova Interact Club, Junior class representative for California Scholarship Federation.

Even with all of the clubs and activities that Csandra is involved with she decided to take on a new challenge.

“Last year I gathered the courage to join a sports team for the first time.  Though I wasn’t one of the starting players, be able to practice and improve my skills every day was gratifying.  I was able to develop better time management, teamwork and perseverance to rise up on the ladder.”

PRO is proud to help students like Csandra reach her goals.  We know that she will go on to do incredible things.

“I’m hoping to graduate university with a degree in political science or general biology.  I want to be able to integrate the knowledge, commitment and leadership skills that PRO has taught me when expanding the application of my future studies in my community.”

Meet Angileena – Sharing Her Voice with PRO Youth!

Meet Angileena Hayes.  She has been a Youth Engagement Coordinator with PRO Youth and Families for over one year.

Originally from Vallejo she moved to Sacramento in 2007 because the high prices of the Bay Area pushed her and her family out.

Those who meet Angileena instantly fall in love with her energy and enthusiasm.  To call her a firecracker would be an understatement.  But more than her energetic she is fierce- unwavering to the obstacles that dare to get in her way.  She has overcome tremendous barriers that have made her strong, resilient and powerful.

“My father died when I was 6 years-old so I have been helping my mom take care of my brothers since I could reach the stove. I had my first job at 13 years old. I had my license at 15.”

As she got older Angileena faced more obstacles that only made her stronger and more resilient.

“I was a very angry and rebellious teenager. I was in an abusive relationship that I was scared to get out of. Married at a young age. In a near death car accident. Honestly my list goes on and on but I’m here and grateful to be alive today.”

Homeless for four years, she slept on park benches and anywhere she could find a safe space to sleep.  It took a year before any of her friends knew anything of her situation.

“When looking back on my life I look back at when I was homeless for 4 years. I was a freshman in college married to a man that was intimidated by the great person I was meant to become.”

“These experiences have made me tough but also more resilient then I have imagined. I am extremely happy but I’m also no longer prideful. I have learned to ask for help when I need it and accept assistance when offered.”

Angileena persisted despite these obstacles and her past experiences make her a passionate and empathetic leader at PRO.

“I am extremely passionate about everything I do now more than ever, no one cares about these children more than I do.”

“My ultimate goal when leading any program if its mentoring, tutoring, job training, or even giving a workshop is to have the biggest impact in such a small amount of time. Because when they leave the room if they forget even why they were there they will always remember Ms. Angileena and how she cared.”

“For the future I plan to continue my journey with youth development by taking as many opportunities as possible to U.S.E. (uplift, share, and encourage) the youth I come across.”

Entering her final year at Sacramento State, Angileena will graduate with a BA in African American studies.  But her dreams and aspirations go much further.

“I would love to one day have my own college prep program that gives young minority girls a chance to explore STEM on a college campus. I hope to one day be a motivational speaker. I would also like to train teachers on the tools they need to break the barrier between student and teacher.”

We are so lucky to have Angileena here at PRO.  Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless.  And her dreams to make the Sacramento community is genuine and undeniable.

“Working with youth connects to all my past experiences.  The older we get we forget all the things we’ve been through, working with the youth reminds me that no matter how dark the cloud, there is always a brighter day tomorrow.”