What We Do
“Mind the Gap” is the famous phrase that warns riders of London’s subways to be wary of the space between the platform and the train. Children and youth today are confronted with so many deficits, or gaps, in their daily lives —poverty, gangs, homelessness, violence in the home and on the streets—that it can be dizzying. Things can, and have, gone horribly wrong.
We intervene, we teach, we prod, we feed, we coddle, we negotiate, we hug; we do whatever it takes to get youth through the day and on to the next with a clearer vision of all that is possible if they stay the course.
Modern life is complicated, as are the reasons that too many of our young people end up on the wrong side of the law, or on the margins of society. But the antidote is quite simple. Statistics indicate that the vast majority of Americans who graduate from college, marry after their 20th birthday, and bear children after that will almost certainly avoid lives of poverty or run-ins with the law. That was true a century ago, and it remains true today. Rather than focusing on victimization, Bay Area Peacekeepers prefers to put the focus on traditional, old-fashioned values—hard work, education, sharing and discipline—to keep at-risk youth in the slow lane, and on track to lead safe, prosperous, and productive lives.
“Hurt people” as the saying goes, “hurt people” and with parents increasingly working longer hours, resources are stretched thin, and family time together is harder and harder to come by. Wounds are slow to heal. The hurt settles in, and festers. Bay Area Peacekeepers fills that vacuum in an effort to provide a kind of backup, or surrogate family. Working with parents, schools, and the police, we keep youth focused on the tasks-at-hand, which include staying out-of-harms way, learning, growing, and becoming good citizens.
Defunding police departments is a topic of much debate today across the U.S. Bay Area Peacekeepers don’t have a dog in that fight; we are far more interested in empowering people by strengthening relationships through dialogue, helping youths make informed decisions, and building confidence in themselves and each other.
In 1991, Gonzalo Rucobo’s wife was driving in Richmond with their newborn and 1-year old child when their car was shot at. Thankfully, no one was injured but “that was my turning point,” said Rucobo, now 50. “I made a pact with God that I was going to start working with youth and try to change their lives. Fourteen years later he founded BAP working with as many as 500 youths in grades 7 through 12 in a school year, sending scores off to college and bigger, brighter futures. We make no bones about subscribing to the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”