|Dr. Sonny Lara Founder of Firehouse with Firehouse Youth|
Drs. Sonny and Linda Lara are trained Statesmen through Dr. Clyde Rivers, President and Founder of iChange Nations™ Statesman’s Program. They have embraced their passion to help others, particularly youth that have little to no potential to succeed in life. They reside and work in the San Jose, CA region. They are impacting may lives on a daily basis. We are proud to call them iChange Nations™ Statesmen.____________________________
Transforming at risk youth, throw aways, gang members and drug addicts is what Firehouse Community Development is known for. Drs. Sonny Lara and Linda Lara knew unless someone intervened with these type of young people they would be handed a death sentenced or life imprisonment. Unless someone stepped in a detoured them from this type of lifestyle this would be their fate.
With this in mind, the Firehouse set out to rescue and save the worst of the worst. Those who nobody thought could be saved. Those, who all hope of any type of turn around seemed impossible. Their only hope of survival would be for them to escape a bullet or never get caught by the police for doing a violent crime. These are the type of youngsters that Firehouse sought out to bring hope.
Drs. Sonny and Linda knew the first step in doing so was to establish a safe haven for these youth. A place where they would feel welcomed and accepted. A place where you weren’t looked down on or discarded as unworthy because of the neighborhood you came from, the clothes you wore, the tattoos on your body or the amount of income your parents made. Where youth felt valued and accepted.
So believe it or not a “hand shake” is what opened the door for Firehouse to begin this task. A hand shake of warmth and love for each and everyone that we encountered. Soon the trust between Firehouse and the youth was established. They began to open their hearts and we were able to come in and bring hope.
We then began the Firehouse School Program. Four or more F’s, a low GPA, truancy and disciplinary issues was and continues to be the criteria for entrance into the program. This program is not for the valedictorian, on the contrary. There are enough programs for them. It is for those who are failing in school and life, and need guidance to get back on track. At Firehouse we believe every life has value and that includes the worst of the worst.
We know that if we had the opportunity to encourage, empower, enlighten and speak life into these youngsters they would succeed. Four days a week we are on school campus. Allowing students with four F’s or more come to our program to receive help.
We are only funded to take case loads of forty students, but we had over a hundred students wanting to get in the program. There was no way we could turn any of them down even though we knew we would not receive any funding for them. We were overwhelmed by the response and knew we had the opportunity to transform their lives.
|School Graduation of Firehouse Youth|
We have now seen such great transformation in these young people. They have gotten their GPA’s from 0.2 to some as high as 4.0. Yes 4.0! And now being accepted at colleges and universities. We are so proud of our students who have completely turned their lives around. Off drugs, out of gangs and out of trouble. They are now working and going to school. We give God all the Glory for we know it is Him that has made all this possible.
Written by Dr. Linda Lara