“I need a police officer to come to my house and scare my son straight!”
As a young Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy who recently had been assigned to the community relations bureau, that was a phone call I answered in 1990 from a frantic mother. She was calling concerning her 13-year old son who was an active member of a local street gang…the Bloods.
After listening to her talk about the problems she was having with her son and how out of control he was, I decided I had to do whatever I could to help not only her, but him especially.
I had no way of knowing that after responding to that mother’s call and then mentoring her son for two months, I would be the founder of the OK (Our Kids) Program. Today, almost 26 years later, I’m happy to say that I am still answering calls from families needing help for their young boys. However, the big difference today compared to 1990 is that I am delighted that I am no longer the only one responding to those calls for help. The OK Program would not exist today if were not for our partners who answer calls every day in our Program cities.
The partnership we have with local police departments is what makes the OK Program unique. A police officer is assigned full-time to serve as the OK Program Coordinator who manages Program activities in each of our markets. I acknowledge, respect, appreciate, and thank them for all they do. On a daily basis, they’re answering calls from parents, guardians, teachers, school administrators, not to mention hundreds of boys…boys who desperately need guidance, advocacy, support, and above all, someone who loves and respects them. I have had the privilege to help select and train each of the OK Program Coordinators. They are outstanding officers who every day through the OK Program make our cities safer and our communities stronger.
I also want to thank our participating School Districts who are invaluable partners. I thank them for answering the call by embracing our innovative program. They allow us to enter their campuses every day to help black boys manage challenges that often cause them to fall behind in school. Without the schools’ willingness to invite us into their schools, there simply would not be an OK Program.
Our Pastors and other community leaders also help us answer the call. They serve as Advisory Board Members in each of our program cities and provide valuable insight and counsel regarding the OK Program in their communities. I greatly appreciate their commitment to raising funds and finding resources to make sure local OK Programs are successful. What they do is critical in making sure that our boys thrive and become tomorrow’s leaders.
Where would the OK Program be without our mentors? A huge thank you to all who serve. Known as “Teammates” in the OK Program, they have answered the call to mentor and serve as role models for our young men. They clearly understand the important role black men must play in the lives of black boys. Our Teammates have stood up and accepted that responsibility. They understand that black men must work in collaboration with police to bridge the gap between law-enforcement and our African-American communities, especially with our young black males. I love and appreciate our Teammates more than they will ever know.
Lastly, an enormous thanks to everyone who has answered the call to help change the lives of our young men through donations. I saved you for last because the fact is, none of those I previously thanked could be effective without your generous contributions. I hope you will continue to answer the call through your financial support and enthusiastically share the OK Program story with your family and friends.
I am humbled and remain extremely excited about the successes the OK Program has experienced in our first 25 years. Our men and boys are dedicated to transforming their communities. Join me in helping to guarantee that our next 25 years are even more fruitful. Please visit okprogram.org and make a donation today so that we can continue impacting the lives of African-American men and boys. As I like to encourage everyone – “It’s Time To Get With the Program.” Please join us.
Founder & CEO