The Epiphany Project
Now beginning its 8th year, the Epiphany Project has seen remarkable successes throughout the community helping over 1200 youth and parents gain the life skills necessary to lead healthier more productive lives. We are currently operating the The Epiphany Project in 6 schools and 2 community centers throughout Los Angeles. Designed as an educational tool to help non-active gang members reintegrate into their communities, the Epiphany Project uses its’ tattoo removal program as an incentive for participation. Gang tattoos can act as an obstacle to finding employment and can be potentially life-threatening simply for the effects tattoos can have on rival gang members, well after a gang member has left his/her gang. “It is very important that tattoos be removed because it always builds a wall when they want to find employment,” says Alex Alvardo, Program Coordinator of Homies Unidos. Initially a program to help kids with anger management issues, the Epiphany Project curriculum has expanded to cover topics such as self-esteem, leadership skills, goal setting skills, and gang violence awareness and intervention, to name but a few.
The workshops are conducted by people who have similar backgrounds in gangs, violence, and, at one time, were in the same situation as the students. Gerald Gomez, the overseer of the Alternative Education and Work Center (AEWC) at LA Trade Technical College, tells a story of the first time Alex Sanchez spoke to his students. Many students treated Alex with attitude because they didn’t understand the message he as trying to convey. With a wry smile, Alex said, “I used to be just like you…until I was sent to prison.” The Epiphany Project isn’t just in schools nor is it just for youths who have been through the juvenile detention system or want to leave gang life behind. It is also offered in Spanish to parents who have kids that have gone through the program. The reasoning is that if issues such as domestic violence, drugs and alcohol are holding back kids then it is important the parents undergo the same sort of training. For more information regarding the Epiphany Project please contact Melinda Isordia at firstname.lastname@example.org call 213-383-7484