Program offers gang members a way out via firefighting

(Photo courtesy of the L.A. Times)

One of the enduring conceits of Santa Ana’s “Team Pulido” and their allies in the “Usual Suspects” is that gang members cannot clean up and lead good lives.  When Councilwoman Michele Martinez ran for Mayor this year, against Pulido, her fellow Councilmember, Claudia Alvarez, greatly enjoyed calling Martinez a “drug dealer,” in the present tense, even though Martinez left that life behind many years ago.  “Team Pulido,” offers no second chances to anyone – although they gladly did so for “Usual Suspect” Tim Rush after he was busted for white collar crimes related to real estate.

Today’s L.A. Times features a story that serves as a rebuttal to “Team Pulido’s” attitude regarding gang members.  The article focuses on a young man named Ramon Maestas, who is trying to leave the gang life behind.  He has been offered one last chance – working with Aztecs Rising, “a seasonal fire crew based out of Lincoln Heights that helps gang members start anew.”

The story is amazing.  Several of Maestas’ fellow gang members wash out of the program.  He does too but he is allowed to come back.

Is there anything more heroic than fighting fires?  Maestas actually has a chance to get a permanent job with the U.S. Forestry Service.  I hope he makes it.

Here in Santa Ana we have a similar program run by Taller San Jose.  They strive to teach troubled young men to become construction workers.  It is an amazing program.  You may read about it at this link.

Everyone can be a useful human being.  Troubled young people need opportunities and support.  They don’t get enough of either here in Santa Ana.  Kudos to the programs that are helping these young people!  Would that we had more of them…

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.