Participant Success Story: Jabari
As a young child Jabari dealt with a lot of instability. After his mom passed away when he was eight years old he was moved around from foster home to foster home. “In the foster care system, as a foster child, support didn’t come easy,” said Jabari, “I never got the parental attention that I needed and so I looked for it elsewhere and ended up getting it from the streets.” Jabari engaged in illegal activities and was in and out of the criminal justice system. Then in the beginning of 2013 he got shot.
After getting released from the hospital Jabari was homeless and his probation officer suggested that he go to an Oakland Unite funded program called Men of Valor. Soon after, in September 2013, Jabari was “called-in” by the Oakland Police Department’s Ceasefire strategy. Jabari recalls, “At the meeting they said ‘law enforcement is here to take you but these people [community organizations and service providers] are here to help you.’” Jabari decided to try the services and was hooked up with Oakland Unite’s Outreach Developer and Case Manager, Emilio Mena. The relationship that Jabari built with Emilio has made a huge impact in his life, “Emilio is more than a case manager…he goes above and beyond the requirements of his job and is always there when I call.” Emilio Mena has nothing but praise for Jabari, “When I first met Jabari he had a positive attitude and held himself accountable for his actions…He was willing to take the small steps with me to begin transforming his life. I have the utmost respect for him.”
Through his work with Emilio and with Men of Valor, Jabari attended anger management classes and is currently employed, has health insurance, had stable housing and is working on getting his GED and California Driver’s License.
Due to his success Jabari was invited to attend the “Cities United” conference in New Orleans around eliminating violence-related deaths of black and brown males in inner-city communities. The conference was also attended by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Sara Bedford the Director of the Human Services Department at the City of Oakland, Oakland Unite’s Violence Prevention Network Coordinator, Kevin Grant, as well as mayors and community leaders from cities across the United States. At the age of 33 it was Jabari’s first time out of California and first time on an airplane. This was a life changing experience for Jabari and it opened his eyes to the larger world outside of Oakland. “I really enjoyed meeting all kinds of different people, mayors and politicians. I never imagined I would be in the same room with these people and I was able to voice my opinion and talk about the mental health part because that is the part that bothers me the most,” said Jabari. Kevin Grant agrees that Jabari was able to “speak from the heart” and make an impact. After one of the break-out sessions at the conference Jabari had a line of people waiting to talk to him, ask him questions and congratulate him.
One of the highlights of the experience for Jabari was meeting an eleven year-old boy named Keith Whitted Jr. Keith wrote a book, Keith’s Heart, about his father’s homicide and how he struggled to cope with the pain. Jabari read the book while at the conference and could relate to the intense loss due to his own experiences. He was able to reach out and speak with Keith at the conference, make a connection and commend him on his strength.
Jabari’s success and this experience have motivated him. “I feel motivated through the people I’ve been working with and meeting. Motivated and anxious to make up for all my mistakes, just working to give back and hoping my experience might help somebody else,” he explained.
Here at Oakland Unite we are proud of Jabari’s accomplishments. He has overcome great adversity and with hard work and dedication has been able to transform his life. The work is not over but Jabari is well on his way to creating a new life for himself and his children.
To hear Jabari speak about his accomplishments please click HERE.