Young Visionaries Host Annual Backpack Giveaway
Vaccinations Available Too
By Dianne Anderson
Some of the best parties around feature live entertainment, deejays banging good beats, boxes of farm-to-food good eats, and most anything else that can fit in the bag.
On Saturday, July 31, the Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy will have all that and more, and is inviting the community to snap up freebies with 5,000 backpacks at their annual giveaway.
Terrance Stone recently celebrated his nonprofit’s 20th anniversary, and looks back to when he first got started, happy to give away what seems now like a handful of backpacks.
“Going from 50 backpacks for 50 kids to 5,000 backpacks, that’s a pretty large audience of families coming out. It’s grown to bigger partners at the table that’s able to help us out, county schools and county supervisors,” said Stone, CEO and founder of YVYLA.
On July 31, the community is invited to backpacks stuffed full of school supplies, but the group is also working with Supervisor Joe Baca’s office for a vaccination site.
“If anybody wants to get vaccinated, we can make that happen,” he said. “We’re doing vaccination shots and school supplies and whatever else we can get out there.”
At the upcoming event, if anyone needs a ride to get vaccinated, he has funding through Uber to get them to and from the event. Setting up an appointment is as easy as checking the box during registration.
Their staff of 26 provides mentoring, and family-focused programs, including mental health for African American kids, youth and families. They also host regular community pull up and pick up events offering numerous free services, food, goods and resources.
His program also holds the violence intervention and prevention contract for the city of San Bernardino, and he reaches into the hardest to reach gang-ridden high crime areas. Critical outreach for families is the main goal.
Some apartment complexes are not getting access to resources. The community is finally opening up to mental health help, especially as more celebrities come forward to talk about what used to be considered taboo.
“I think there are diamonds in the rough in some of these neighborhoods, we’re going in there to let them know there are resources and job training. We can help you navigate and get you in there,” he said.
Since starting in 2001, one of their greatest impacts is showing low-income kids and youth a different side of life. At juvenile hall, he’s always suited up, dressed to impress, usually following mornings of professional meetings.
In the past few months, he’s worked closely with the Public Defenders office, helping kids visualize their future.
He said that being a CEO, and putting that image in front of local youth has a stronger impact than the negativity they see on the streets every day of the week. He also tries to bring out popular influencers to grab their attention.
“Spanky Hayes [previously] with MTV is working with us. We bring him for the wow factor,” he said.
To celebrate YVYLA’s 20 years, the nonprofit hosted an online gala. Later the masks came off at Old Castaways where they recognized the tireless efforts of his staff and board members, including Dr. Margaret Hill.
It was important to show appreciation for all their hard work through the pandemic, he said. Youth and staff hit the streets every day with community giveaways. And a lot of the success of the program is about persistence, bringing different departments and entities together for the community.
“Getting everyone in the same room to agree to make this thing happen is incredible in itself as far as I’m concerned. I was just a young guy with a dream and a passion to help kids,” he said.
For anyone looking to succeed with nonprofits, or just in life in general, Stone said work ethic is key.
“I work with what I have and be faithful with that little bit or a lot and build upon that. If I tell them we’re going to do ten things, we’ll do 20 things to let them know we’re out here and we get stuff done,” he said.
At their upcoming event, he said there are plenty of vendor booths. People can drive through slow moving and talk with providers to get whatever areas of help or support they need.
“It’s going to be a well-oiled event, classy for the community, upbeat for the kids. The main thing is that we get kids, adults and families vaccinated, and give kids backpacks and school supplies for back to school.”
For more information, call 909.723.1543, or text 909.513.4316
To register online, see https://www.eventbrite.com/e/5000-backpack-giveaway-tickets-160045326881