(From Young Men In Transition, Inc.)
Last Modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 9:09 PM
Several years ago, Wanda Ramirez was awakened in the middle of the night with a strong sense that God was trying to tell her something. After some time praying and thinking, she realized what he wanted was for her to help motivate at-risk young men and help them transition into adulthood.
On Sept. 19, 2009, Ramirez established Young Men in Transition, a non-profit, religious organization that helps mentor and guide at-risk males, age 10-17, who live in Lake Charles and surrounding areas.
“The program is basically to prevent juvenile detention, incarceration, HIV, teen pregnancy, everything that you can possible think of preventing for our children is what this is about,” said Ramirez, who is the CEO and founder of the group.
Young Men in Transition’s curriculum uses classroom training, guest speakers and field trips to teach young men about issues that the local community is facing. The curriculum includes subjects such as welcome to the real world, crime prevention, the importance of education, sex education, respect for authority, drug and alcohol prevention, etc. Ramirez says she bases the curriculum on what she sees are issues in the community and goes from there.
Some field trips are for fun, such as camping trips and waterparks, and some are to reinforce the subjects taught in the curriculum. The group recently completed a six-part program called “Real Talk” where the kids visited a local prison and talked with the prisoners.
“I need for these kids to see that this is real. You do not want this life. I have letter after letter from prisoners saying ‘you don’t want this life’ and begging and pleading for the kids to change,” said Ramirez.
The program has had over 60 participants in the past four years. During the summer, Young Men in Transition meet twice a week in a building in the back of Ramirez’s home. During the school year, they meet once a month and usually have a guest speaker. Ramirez says school always comes first, and she wants them to focus on their education when school is in session.
Ramirez also purchases caps and gowns for graduation once participants complete the curriculum. She says this helps encourage the kids to stay in school and get excited about a high-school graduation. According to Ramirez, participants can graduate from the curriculum but never from the program.
Ramirez funds the program mostly out of her own pocket and also through some donations and sponsors. “I am devoted. I work two jobs, but this is my passion, and this is where I want to be,” said Ramirez.
“I’m not under any grant money, but we need money. It’s difficult to get grant money and they definitely don’t want me to use God in the program if I do, and that’s not going to happen. It’s a religious program. We even have a program in our curriculum that is called L.O.R.D. — Lord Orders Righteousness Daily.”
Ramirez said that word of mouth is how kids and parents have been finding out about the program. “Some of the kids have never been in trouble, some are headed to trouble and parents called, and some are referrals from other agencies,” she said.
Overall, Young Men in Transition’s main goal is prevention. According to Ramirez, there is not a lot of funding or support for prevention, and the community needs to be aware that prevention is the best tool for guiding at-risk kids.
For more information about Young Men in Transition, call Wanda Ramirez at (337) 853-0991.
Posted By: T.A.Neson a senior citizen On: 9/19/2013
Title: KEEP IT UP
Thanks Ms. RAMIREZ for your efforts on behalf of young people.Efforts like that make this world a better place to live in.