Fathers Families of San Joaquin

The Beatitudes of Jesus are a new and revolutionary model of happiness that contradicts what is usually communicated by the media and prevailing wisdom.” — Pope Francis in his Message for World Youth Day, January 21, 2014

“Our mission is to empower, educate and advocate for all youth in Stockton and the San Joaquin Valley (with an emphasis on those system-impacted). We aiim to serve the youth as well as activate them to become politically and socially involved in their own lives, in their families, and in their community.” — from the Youth & Racial Justice Mission Statement of Fathers & Families of San Joaquin

By some absolutely amazing serendipity, I picked up a brochure today from a highly worthy non-profit which is located virtually in my backyard today. It was lying around the house for a long time, neglected, but visible in a little used corner of the house. What prompted me to visit that corner, what moved me to look at it?

I was in the middle of job searching and offering my services as a volunteer nationwide. I had just finished conducting outreach directed to schools in very violent neighborhoods of Chicago, when I leafed through that local brochure. I was all set to take off for Illinois (if they invited me), even though I can’t stand the cold, and I was shivering at home already just at the thought of spending winter time in the Midwest again. I had left New York after some 40 odd years on the East Coast for Hawaii mainly to get away from the wretched width of cold residents can count on every year.

I had resolved to deal with paralyzing effects of the weather, though, in the name of addressing the Collective Good. And I was determined not to be deterred by incessant stories about Chicago being the Crime Capital of America.

I believe that my thousands of attempts to hook up with non-profits over the years were ignored, in great part, because of my age, folks not getting the fact that I really am, arguably, the youngest 75 on the planet. My home schooled teenage son has helped to keep me young, but it’s in my nature to think and behave in a way that’s not associated with retirement or typical elderly mindset.

Check out the excerpt directly below, taken from the organization’s online “About Us” presentation:

Fathers & Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ) is a progressive, solutions orientated organization that works to address the varying needs of men, women, youth, their families and the community. By providing socially relevant and culturally-relevant services, FFSJ develops local leadership while unifying the efforts of existing groups. FFSJ addresses critical problems such as institutional inequity, fatherless homes, wide spread poverty, employment disparities, inadequate access to public health services, community re-entry and youth on youth violence. FFSJ describes a healthy community as follows:

  • Safe, strong, united, and resourceful
  • Treats individuals and families equitably and honestly
  • Promotes positive family images and recognizes family strengths
  • Creates opportunities for individuals and families to achieve health and wellness
  • Involved in the positive development of the youth and families in the community
  • Believes in equality

This is ALL right up my alley, as they say.

Truly, it’s a Marriage Made in Heaven. And I look forward to working 24 x 7 on behalf of their agenda. Which is what is necessary to deal effectively with the source of the bleeding in society. I will gladly tutor, mentor and tackle ALL the challenges they face; deal with the application of necessary tourniquets as they see fit. But I will do more — much more — if they take me on board as a member of their team. [Pause.] My loved ones will certainly be happy that I’m not freezing my butt off in Chicago so far away from them… if they do embrace me.

No matter what they pay, or don’t pay. Even without knowing (yet) how I could possibly manage to cut the muster in my own home if I’m only accepted as a volunteer. I’ll work it out somehow. Or it will be worked out, you might say. For one thing I do know is that there must be a core group of people working ’round the clock with select non-profits… somewhere… somehow… to wrestle with the opposition which operates without a break to break down society unconscionably. Routinely. Terribly. Painfully. [Pause.] I have faith that things don’t have to be quite that way.

I am writing this article to underscore for everyone in the U.S. and abroad that this consciousness I am underscoring must be taken seriously. For there is a serious gap between all the fighting the good fight that goes on regularly and the paradigm for movement in solidarity that I am recommending. With faith.

Thank God for the Fathers and Families of San Joaquin for (possibly) giving me the opportunity to serve. And thank God for Countercurrents giving me this opportunity to spread what I consider an all-important word to well-meaning folks worldwide.

I believe that I’m the most fortunate soul on earth.

Richard Martin Oxman, Director of Flannery O’Connor Academy, has been an educator on all levels for over half a century. He can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com. The above was written and submitted unedited in less than 25 minutes; the author believes there’s a value in such communication sometimes, elements that are instructive rearing their beautiful heads instead of being toned down with a controlling hand. Like artwork which doesn’t attempt to keep everything within traditional lines.


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