Begin From Within: Family Resource Fair
By Dianne Anderson
Fun gifts and prizes, kids contests and line dancing await the entire family to come out and enjoy for the upcoming 3rd Annual Family Matters Festival.
Diana Martin, founder of Begin from Within, said their family resource center draws hundreds each year, and there’s plenty of good eats for all.
“Bring the families out for the day. I got you on the hamburgers and hotdogs, I got you on the chips and the food,” she said. “Your kids are over in the kidzone, and adults can listen to music.”
Each year, the event turns out just the way she envisioned it four years ago when she felt compelled to do something more to help the youth get on a better track. She met up with area clubs, dignitaries, and partnered with the city of Fontana where she lives, to share her vision for how to bring empowering life skills and workshops.
On Saturday, August 17, the 3rd Annual Family Matters Community Festival hosted by Begin from Within-Youth & Young Adult Intervention Program, and the City of Fontana brings a full array of fun-filled activities, resources and tools that the community can use. The event will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Jack Bulik Park, located at Filbert Avenue in Fontana
Much of her inspiration for starting the program came from observing the need for youth to understand old fashioned concepts like respect and manners.
She wanted them to know there are other choices in life, especially in reaching the most impressionable ages from 8 to 25.
Through her diversion program, she gets referrals from the probation department of youth that commits minor offenses, where her goal is to give them ways to correct their actions. She also sees the result of complicated negative situations that they face, both in the streets and at home.
About 70% of the cases she sees involve some sort of drugs, prescription medication, use for recreational purposes, drinking alcohol, and taking alcohol to school.
And, they’re always thinking up dangerous ways to not get caught.
“They’re dipping tampons in hard liquor and inserting them vaginally and rectally. You can’t smell it and it gives you a higher rush,” she said.
In other cases, kids clean out and put crushed pills or meth so they can use it while in the classroom or in public.
“It appears they’re rubbing something on their lips, but they’re snorting. They’re crafty,” said Martin, a commissioner with the San Bernardino County Probation Department.
In her work and programs, she reviews the kinds of issues that bind young minds from achieving success in school. To reach them, she mentors and coaches students, putting on workshops on things that some are already experiencing in their young years, like human trafficking, and prostitution.
The youth she helps are dealing with challenges, yet she doesn’t like the term at risk. She hosts intervention workshop into various group homes, facilities where her target audience is youth, including the Fontana Unified School District.
In her experience, everyone is at risk of something, not just those living in poverty.
“I deal with kids that are driving BMWs to school and their parents are wealthy; or the very poor, and they are both mentally challenged,” she said.
To date, she estimates she has reached over 5,000 students countywide through seminars, and workshops, normally in large groups. Recently she finished a workshop serving 331 students at A.B. Miller High School.
She tries to raise prevention awareness for youth and young adults, some of which may be caught up in substance abuse, or running from one negative situation to another. She said it’s important to let them know there are other options.
Martin said she started hosting workshops at schools and various locations to help a broader base of families and youths while trying to work a full-time job in a mental evaluation unit at the LAPD headquarters as a civilian employee, where she has worked 35 years.
She decided to gather the community together for access to county agencies, public and private agencies, resources and tools all in one place for a greater reach.
Now going into their third year, she said they have received good support and recognition by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes, and Sen. Connie Leyva.
This year, vendors, public agencies, supporters will be on-site providing a host of services, programs and products, including Lourdes Dental Office, Wells Fargo, Chaffey College, San Bernardino Probation Department, CASA of San Bernardino County, and the Institute for Behavioral Health, among many others.
“It allows the kids to have a fun-filled day, bouncers, learning activities, face painting, a festival, and live entertainment and performing arts,” she said. “Each year, it’s better and better and I believe that this year it’s going to be spectacular.”