Central American Youth Leadership Conference 2016

We are raising funds for the second Central American Youth Leadership Conference to welcome our Refugee Youth from Central America fleeing violence.

Homies Unidos Inc.

Children and Youth

Our story

Homies Unidos is requesting your financial support to put together the Second Central American Youth Conference entitle “Juventud en Busca de Paz y Prosperidad” to formally welcome our Central American Refugee (CAR) youth to our community to connect them with resources that will address their trauma around the social determinants of health.   CAR Youth have been dealing with violence since they lived in their country of origin, which they were forced to emigrate. They embarked in a dangerous journey through Mexico, and ended up incarcerated in the U.S. detention centers, after that the Immigration Enforcement Agency reallocated them into Refugee Centers until they were finally released to their parents/legal guardians. But their hopes and dreams of starting a new life free from violence have been challenged during a complex transitioning and reintegration process, when they unified with their family or relatives they had not seen in over a decade, new schools where they didn’t know anyone nor the language and feel alienated. and the reality that many of these neighborhoods they came to live in lack the proper health systems. They are coping with anxiety, depression, and PSTD. Organizations in Los Angeles like CARECEN and Saint St. John’s Well Child Center among others stepped forward and do great work; providing they help for their trauma, others served them with their immigration legal process. Homies Unidos is helping them with the culture shock they are experiencing in their schools and with their families. Homies Unidos started reaching out to schools and community service providers to refer any youth who needs mental health or legal services. As part of a preventive strategy we began implementing the Joven Noble, character development program to provide a safe space where they can express themselves through indigenous traditional teaching tools. Even though, our limited resources we have served over 58 youth in four different schools: Santee High, Hawthorne High, Hawkins High and L.A. River. Through this Conference we will address the need to bring youth from other schools who are not benefiting with these services, where they can share experiences and be introduced to health service providers and other resources. Finally, we need to ensure these youth have a successful, healthy, safe, and well-supported integration to our communities. Therefore, in solidarity with Central American refugees, Homies Unidos is proposing to put together the first locally accessible Central American Youth Conference. The main purpose will be to ensure that these refugee youth feel welcomed, introduced to service providers and to celebrate and promote Central American art and culture. Goals

Our conference main goals look to,

  1. Revitalize our support and welcoming the Central American youth and their families who fled violence and economic hardship in their country of origin and now are refugees in the U.S. and,
  2. Connect Central American youth with resources provided by organizations in; legal services, mental health, education and violence prevention.
  3. Produce a resolution from our youth to ensure their refugee status automatically entitled to asylum, education, health, and decent work.

As a result of this conference organized by our Central American youth would have graduated from our summer Youth Leadership Training, we will have learned together to organize around the health disparities based in the social determinants of health, in their communities and will become part of a larger component of the Youth Refugee Council. Overall, Central American youth from various schools will benefit from the health resources and cultural activities provided by organizations, endorsers, funders, and the youth themselves; which eventually would create opportunities for positive feedback, health referral system and self-esteem building for CAR youth, in the long run towards more support from the main community stakeholders.

Why it matters?

Currently, recent support for immigrant children and youth is fading and is not being prioritized. In that context the extremely difficult reality of the Central American Immigrant Youth—in the invironment of the mental conflict of Integration, PTSD symptoms, the effects of displacement, language barriers, and the lack of tools, resources, and education about these issues.  The families, shelter or school staff, are not able to reach or support this population without effectively building culturally relevant approaches and interventions. “In Los Angeles, the school district's mental-health director, Pia Escudero, reviewed records for students entering a newcomer school there; she found that 94 percent of those given mental-health screenings reported at least three traumatic events, and 65 percent had clinical symptoms" in the range of PTSD and depression." They experience hyper arousal and hyper alertness, and everyday urban sounds—say, a helicopter passing overhead—can trigger flashbacks.”[1] The above history brings down the fact that immigrant children would be at risk of gang violence involvement, their borrow families would not know how to deal with them and it is not wild to assure that most schools will not know what to do with this population.  Their needs are very different from the rest of the “regular” class.  The current infrastructure lacks a plan to divert the youth from gangs, and law enforcement does not provide protection of this highly vulnerable population.  Additionally, community members express distrust of law enforcement’s overly harsh responses and fear that police collaborate with immigration authorities; while at the same time, law enforcement and police officers express frustration that they “are unable to take proactive steps to build relationships in the community”. Simultaneously, the increasing number of deportations is incrementing the number of family separations and launches low-income-to extremely low-income families into dire economic hardship. The impact of loss and economic pressure is experienced in behavioral changes in older children who have had parents deported or incarcerated which often include: increase in aggression, PTSD symptoms (particularly if they witnessed their parents being arrested from inside the home); increased criminal activity; inter-community violence; juvenile incarceration (and getting caught in the vicious cycle of recidivism); and self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, self-injury, self-mutilation, and suicide. Historically, the consequence of not creating a plan to support and welcome refugees has created plenty to draw from to reconsider as the best opportunity to overcome the lack of planning, involved traditional and new stakeholders from the communities.    [1] Mother Jones magazine (Ian Gordon – 70,000 kids will show up alone at our border this year. What happens to them? | Tue Jun. 3, 2014)

How will the funds be used?

Evaluation – We will leverage our resources by seeking other fundraising activities. Build on the momentum already established in Los Angeles, focusing on organizing youth and involvement in community coalitions through a multi-lateral campaign that engages the criminalized immigrant community. We will implement a combination of pre and post questionnaires, focus groups and follow up communication forms will be utilized to implement and measure success of the goals.  With feedback from the youth and community who attended the Leadership Training, forums and advocacy efforts, we can better determine the needs of the youth and families we support and how to meet them.  In addition we will support and develop follow-up tools to consolidate the Central American Immigrant and Refugee Youth Council.



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Givers

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Joshua Kim

Happy birthday, Alex!

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Reina salazar

Thanks homies for Always being there for me. Please help them raised the funds. I'll be there helping, count on me.

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Celeste Fremon

Thank you for doing this work, as always!

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Alan Diamante

Law Office of Alan Diamante thanks Homies Unidos for providing a much needed service.

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Michael Novick

Such a good cause I gave twice

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Manuel Leiva

I would prefer a T-shirt instead of a coffee mug

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Karl W Krooth

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Anonymous

Keep up the good work!

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Edgar Roberto Ayala

Go Homies

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Nicholas Kim Hooper

Make it happen.

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Romina Robles Ruvalcaba

Felicitaciones por su gran esfuerzo; les deseo muchísima suerte!

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Roderick M. Spencer

Love and good wishes to Homies Unidos always.

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Jocelyn Graf

Keep up the good work!

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Carol Carpenter

Keep up the great work Homies Unidos!

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Frankie Contreras

I wish you all of the best keep up the outstanding work to rescue at risk kids from violence. Frankie Contreras

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Seth Eklund

Bresee Supports You Homies Unidos

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Ashley Englander

Thank you for this important event!

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Sergio Argueta

Continue in your struggle hermano, from LA to LI, WE ARE ALEX SANCHEZ! Que viva Homies Unidos, hoy y siempre.

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Heidi Gamble

God bless you all! Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble, Presbyterian Church (USA)

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Alcira guevara

God bless

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Celina R. Benitez

Continue doing a great job!

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Alexandra Aquino-Fike

Incredible project! Go Alex and team!

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Martha Arevalo

This is an amazing project!

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Nicole K Rojsd

Healing and Blessings! Rise Up! Stay strong and Believe!

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Anonymous

Que viva Centro América !

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Anonymous

This is a donation is from one of our youth, Blanca, who came looking for help who is now loving life and doing well.

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Anonymous

Keep up the amazing work supporting our youth! Casa Libre thanks you!

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Michael de la Rocha

Thank you so much Alex and the rest of the incredible Homies Unidos staff for all that you do!

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Louis P Cardona

Let's keep supporting our Children!

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Jaime Martinez

This is a good thing Homies Unidos is doing for our youth. Thank you Homies Unidos for all the help you have given me. Please give.

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Martha Arevalo

This is an amazing organization and project!

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Miguel E Perla

Keep up the good work!

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Rosemarie Ashamalla

From Sunrise Outreach Centerbe a proud partner

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Thomas S Byrnes

Alex and Crew, keep up your great work.

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Steven Osuna

Que Viva Homies Unidos!

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Suyapa Portillo

So very excited for this conference!

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Monica Novoa

Homies Unidos continues to be my favorite organization - thank you so much for your leadership Alex and for the new leadership you are cultivating in our community!

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nicolas dumont

¡Que la conferencia sea un exito! #HIPGive2Health @Hipgive

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Steven D Vigil

Keep up the great and very needed work!

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Alexander Sanchez

Thank you HIPGive for supporting Homies Unidos. #HIPGive2Health

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Puiyee Yu

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Elana Zilberg

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Paul Stojsavljevic-Flores

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Michelle Alissa Cohen

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Yaneth L Rodriguez

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Josiah W Hooper

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Alexis Stoumbelis

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Jose Arias

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Tanya R Orellana

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Kency Cornejo

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zulema valdez

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Oscar J. Sanchez

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Roxana Palma

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Jorge Gonzalez

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Gregory L Simons

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Susan Alva

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Oscar Torres

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Paula Guadron

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Ms R C Shaeffer

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David Farley

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Frank Dorrel

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Elana Zilberg

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Ester Hernandez

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Florence Azria

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Delia Sanchez

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Jonathan L Congdon

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Juan Jose Mangandi

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sandra williams

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William H Dailey

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Chris Cuellar

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Marlom Portillo

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The team

Paula Guadron

Currently Paula Guadron is coordinating the Joven Noble (Noble Youth) Program. She has been volunteering her time at Homies’ since the beginning of 2014, and has become familiar with the organization needs and services provided for the youth population. Homies Unidos currently serves. She has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from CSULA, where she also participated in Cross-Cultural Research to study the Psychological effects of Race and Institutional Discrimination on People of Color. Paula also worked as a Domestic Violence Advocate and Crisis Intervention Worker in collaboration with LAPD to assist victims in the area of Watts. She also has worked at S.T.A.Y. (Standing Together Advocating for our Youth) co-organizer, actively participating in building dialogue about community issues in Echo Park and surrounding areas.
Ms. Guadron advocacy work the last 15 years has been in Environmental Justice, Mental Health, Housing, and Homeless Youth Outreach, as well as Wilderness Restoration and Preservation. Paula is a L.A. native, born and raised in Echo Park in the 1980’s. As an Echo Park local, her experiences as an LGBTQ-Salvadorian-Mexican-Chicana youth of color/urban native have instilled in her sense of responsibility to her extended community, and an urgency to make immediate social changes. She is committed to co-creating alternative, pro-social, effective solutions to community mental health needs, specifically for underserved groups such as Central-American youth and their families. I believe in non-violent transformative justice, and in the potential of all marginalized groups to become healthy, successful, and thriving community members.

Melinda Isordia

Program Director

Melinda Isordia is the Program Director of Homies Unidos. She is also a student at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and is a part of a community led collective call Solidarity House of the South in South Central. Melinda’s Program Director.
Currently Melinda focuses on managing and coordinating the Youth Leadership Training Program and an all-girl rites of passage program called Xinachtli. Office management is another concentration Melinda has in the organization. Ultimately, her dream is to see more proud, confident, and compassionate communities.

Alex Sanchez

Alex Sanchez, is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles branch of Homies Unidos, an organization in the Pico Union and Koreatown area of Los Angeles with a sister organization in San Salvador. A former gang member who after serving prison time California State Prison was deported back to El Salvador in 1994. While in El Salvador he was targeted by Death Squads operating in his home town. He returned committed to change his life for the better. In 1998 he started implementing programs geared to youth in gangs. In 2000 he was targeted by the Rampart police and became part of the infamous Rampart scandal, Alex was freed later that year and in 2002 won Political Asylum. He continues his work in the community. He has received countless awards and recognitions from the City of Los Angeles, Organizations and Foundations.
To understand the Gang subculture, you need to understand how politics and policy has played a major role in spreading gangs from Los Angeles to other continents. Alex’s expertise in gang subculture and youth criminalization developed through his experiences as gang member. His dedication to his community on issues of transnational youth violence and criminalized immigrants has made him a unique expert on the issue. He has testified in court as a gang expert for the defense on countless occasions, testified in California’s legislature and in 2005 testified in the United Nations on massacres of incarcerated people in Honduras. Hi personal experience and dedication to our youth has helped in the development of the first policy defining what Gang Intervention is and the strategy to use to reduce gang violence. This definition was adopted by the City of Los Angeles and is currently being translated into Spanish to be introduced in Juarez, Mexico and hopefully El Salvador. Suppression and incarceration are but a bad aid to cover the root causes of the self-destruction of our youth both in Central America and the United States.

Melinda Isordia

Program Director

Melinda Isordia is the Program Coordinator for Homies Unidos. She is also a full-time student at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and is a part of a community led collective call Solidarity House of the South in South Central. Melinda’s Program Director.
Currently Melinda focuses on managing and coordinating the Youth Leadership Training Program and an all-girl rites of passage program called Xinachtli. Office management is another concentration Melinda has in the organization. Ultimately, her dream is to see more proud, confident, and compassionate communities.



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