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Health & Fitness programming is assisting with a path to reentry at the Juvenile Justice Center

Manny and Jerico

It has been a few weeks since I started conducting a physical education program with the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center community. This includes members of the Staff, juveniles serving a sentence, custodial personnel, and other contractors like myself.

I remember people telling me that I should be careful going in there and doing programs with these juveniles because "they are dangerous criminals.” Well my answer to those comments and words of advice is - YES, I should be careful. At the same time - NO, not everyone in there is a bad element to society.

The first couple of days were challenging. Challenging in the sense of finding the right technique and approach to earn these guys trust, personal interest, and get them engaged with the idea of working out with me and adapting themselves to my routine.

The first day I got 4 out of 10 people and one staff member, who I happened to meet before - during my interaction working with the kids from Camp Sweeney. On day 2, I got 6 people. On day 3, it went from 6 to 8, and the week after that, I got all 10 juveniles working out really hard with me, even running around the inside of the unit and singing cadences at the same time. It was a real “JJC Boot Camp” going all out! I even got one of the janitors to get down with us a couple of times. It was a perfect outcome for something that people had labeled as “dangerous.”

This outcome propelled me to move in a new direction with the boys. I started to do more than just physical workouts with them - we started (and still continue) doing some cognitive sessions on a weekly basis, where we take the time to talk about life and their plans and goals for when they complete their sentences and are released back into society.

A lot of them express interest in pursuing higher education and even opening their own businesses. True or false, there is no way for me to know, but one thing I know for sure is this - I was able to strike a chord in them, and became more than just a fitness coach in their eyes. A lot of them started to come and talk to me about exercises, boxing, books, movies... asking me for advice, and what to do for X,Y and Z situations.

So far to this day, working at the JJC has been a great experience and a game changer for me. I have been working with community and at-risk youth for a while now, but working in a correctional facility setting has definitely upped my game and helped me to acquire and develop a new set of skills to work with this type of demographic. The social interaction with the Staff members and other contractors has been great, and they all are very friendly and supportive.

I would say that this job is not for everyone. It can be very challenging and stressful at times, but the rewards of being part of a group of professionals combining their efforts to provide better solutions and strive for a healthier and safer future for these kids/young adults and society as well, can give you one of the most satisfying and fulfilling feelings of success that there is.

Manny Villalon - Boxing Program Manager & Coach

Officers and DSAL staff delivering cart with supplies to a community member in need

Dig Deep Farms - Empowering and Uplifting Marginalized Women

"On August 12, 2023, I had the privilege of commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Sol Sisters' unwavering commitment to supporting women throughout the Bay Area.

During this event, I had the opportunity to share my personal journey, strength, and hope with Sol Sisters' Inc. - a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and helping them overcome societal barriers through educational and empowering experiences that foster personal and professional growth.

It was an honor to share the stage with former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams, who raised awareness about mental health.

Kimberly Thomas - Director of Dig Deep Food Hub

Funder Spotlight - The Hellman Foundation

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many excellent nonprofit and public institutions working to improve the lives and livelihoods of our communities. The Hellman Foundation plays a large roll in supporting those doing the hard work to make a better place for all who call the San Francisco Bay Area home. Our combined passion and commitment is making the difference in people’s lives.

Since 2012, the Hellman Foundation has awarded over $75 million in grants to hundreds of organizations. With primary focus in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Hellman Foundation works to build equity and opportunity, to advance knowledge, and to foster health, science, the arts, innovation, and creativity.

Since the Foundation's launch in late 2011, they’ve focused on supporting organizations and initiatives working in the Bay Area. They strive to be strategic in their philanthropy to ensure they help meet local pressing needs and bolster the impact of partner organizations.

While the organizations they support are broad, they have an emphasis on education and youth development, and health and basic needs programs.

Thank you to the Hellman Foundation, for working with us to make our community better and stronger.

DSAL Health & Fitness Positive Impact Report page 1

Partner Spotlight - Emanuelu Samoan FMC

Amidst the aftermath of the devastating Maui wildfires, a beacon of compassion emerges through the partnership of Dig Deep Farms Food Hub and Emanuelu Samoan Free Methodist Church. Together, they are taking impactful strides to support and uplift families grappling with the aftermath of this tragedy.

Dig Deep Farms Food Hub, known for their sustainable agricultural practices, has joined forces with the Emanuelu Samoan Free Methodist Church, a pillar of community support. This collaboration is a testament to the enduring power of unity and the commitment to extend a helping hand when it's needed the most.

Through their combined efforts, they are generously donating essential food supplies to families and individuals who have faced profound loss. In the face of adversity, this collaboration serves as a powerful reminder that compassion knows no bounds. Their joint initiative embodies the resilience and strength of a community coming together to heal and rebuild.

DSAL’s Small Business Spotlight - Aurora Catering

Aurora Catering is run by Chef Marty and his wife Dawn, who have been catering in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2008. With Marty's fifteen years of experience in the catering industry, and Dawn’s photography experience in the wedding industry, they bring creativity, care, and warmth to your catered experience.

Marty studied at the San Francisco Culinary Institute and trained with the Michael Mina Group and Chef Todd Kniess. Chef Marty will discuss menu ideas for your event, incorporating your style, theme and budget. His passion for food and love for what he does is palpable. He will leave you with mouth-watering ideas and inspiration for your event.

Dawn is the CEO and Catering Coordinator and ensures successful events. She incorporates all of the details regarding venue requirements and outlines proposals including every detail. Dawn’s photography background allows her to lend a visual eye to your plans, and her background as a legal assistant gives her the groundwork for all of the necessary details that go into catering an event.

Hayward Promise Neighborhoods Logo

Employee Spotlight - Lisa Perry

"Lisa Perry is one of the most important people on the DSAL team.

Lisa ensures that all of the partners whose funding makes DSAL possible, get reports and updates on all the amazing and impactful work that DSAL is doing for the community. Every day the DSAL team fights to provide free health, fitness, food, and economic investments to the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo as a way to assist in catalyzing healthy and safe communities.

Lisa loves to be behind the scenes but her work is critical to enabling all of the staff out in the community to keep doing the great work they do, so we are putting her in the spotlight this month!

Lisa is proactive, efficient, currently becoming an Excel data wizard, and is truly an incredible asset on team DSAL! The work doesn’t happen without her!"

Hilary Bass - Co-Founder of DSAL

Miiki in the greenhouse with fresh local produce

Dig Deep Farms Update - Delicious Harvests fill our CSA Bags

The Ardenwood farm site has been busy bringing in harvests of green onions, rainbow chard, Swiss chard, collards and carmen peppers from the field! These crops have made their way into the Rx Bags given to patients as part of the Food as Medicine Program. Striped German, sun gold, and early girl tomatoes, butternut, have fruits growing and will be featured in future Rx Bags!

If you would like to learn more about our organization, how we utilize sustainable farming practices and principles, tours, volunteers and internship opportunities, please email or contact us through our linktree.

Rex (Flordy) Nduenga kicking a ball like a champ at soccer camp

OJT Spotlight - Ladonte Neff

"Ladonte was released from prison with only the clothes on his back, facing the heavy challenge of securing employment. His criminal background caused a significant barrier, making it difficult to find a job. Frustration and hopelessness began to take hold, pushing him to give up.

A turning point arrived when the BOSS organization referred Ladonte to Dig Deep Farms. Starting his internship marked a positive shift in Ladonte's life. His outlook began to change - not only did he support his colleagues, but he consistently went above and beyond what was expected of him. His commitment and dedication shined through the darkness.

Ladonte found a genuine sense of belonging at Dig Deep Farms, It was no longer just a job, it had become a place where he felt like a part of a family. Despite the hardship, he discovered a newfound sense of responsibility, and contributing to the community became a purpose in his life.

Recently Ladonte welcomed a baby boy into his life. Mr. Neff could now provide for his child, giving him a newfound motivation to succeed.

Ladonte, I take pride in your achievements, Keep pushing and aiming High."

Kimberly Thomas - Director of Dig Deep Food Hub

REACH Fitness Participant King Mauia

is DSAL’s Athlete of the Month

King’s family moved to California last year from Samoa. Our coach Matt is happy to see him integrating with the other youth in his programs - Football, and Track and Field. In this environment he is able to be himself in a safe place and is building relationships and community.

King is a positive influence on his peers. He is always willing to participate, and has a great attitude regardless of the activity. He practices proper sports etiquette and sportsmanship, and goes the extra mile by taking the initiative to help set up and break down equipment when needed, so the program can operate smoothly for everyone.

King feels like he is part of a bigger interconnected family since participating in the program, and has become more involved in community events, recently assisting with a local Asian/pacific islander celebration.

“The REACH Fitness program has helped me feel happier and healthier overall. My favorite part is meeting new people, making friends and having fun! Getting to go on even more field trips would make the program even better.

I think that the program contributes to a healthier & safer community, and helps me stay out of trouble - REACH provides a safe place for kids to go after school.”

- King Mauia


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