The Platform I Need

I have one of the greatest jobs (aside from writing) which is working with middle school aged youth. Everyday is such a different experience and though times can become absolutely chaotic I have an amazing time with all of my students. Our teens come from various backgrounds and all walks of life but one thing that remains constant is their need for stability. Our program is designed to allow all families to feel welcomed regardless of their income, so it isn’t very surprising to know that over half of our students are being sponsored or are receiving financial assistance to be in a safe, well structured environment. Thankfully, many outside programs like free after school bus drop offs are available for the teens but unfortunately they interfere with our program times not allowing those students to participate in our program. Students who would perhaps be interested in joining our activities and know they will be provided with a California State Board Standard nutritious snack are unable to attend and are often forced to find other means of keeping busy without trouble finding them first.

There are moments in life when you get hit with a big reality check and every worry, complaint and any other negative mindset quickly dissolves in an instant…and today was one of them. School officials at work were exposed to what a young boy had been hiding: no soles on the bottoms of his shoes along with dirty ripped white socks. School officials only took notice because he had asked for duct tape so he could piece what was left of his shoes just in time for P.E class. Immediately, the Principal and other officials were notified and money from the school’s “Families in Need Fund*” were taken out and brand new shoes and socks were provided for the innocent child who had had a complete emotional breakdown the class period prior. To make matters more heartbreaking, the new pair of shoes he received were a size 6, when his worn down shoes were a size 4-and-a-half. Though this child falls under the category of not being able to participate in our program due to free transportation, he is just one of the many other children at our school who live with devastating secrets of poverty.

Though there are various fun and exciting reasons why I’d like to be crowned Miss California Latina, I feel this opportunity would give me the perfect platform I need in order to reach out to those in need. I believe having a title, anywhere you go, has so much power and if you properly use that power for the goodness of others, so much success and positive change can occur. As mentioned in previous posts, I was raised to always give to others, especially if you have the capacity and means to do so. Though I haven’t yet experienced the big pageant weekend, I feel I’ve already been able to reach out to many through this very blog. Whether it be inspiring another to enter a pageant or help raise $100 for a San Jose gang related funeral, I feel this pageant experience has already given me the type of platform I’m looking for.

*To help other families in need, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/4n3nn0 and donate! All proceeds will go directly to the “Families in Need Fund”

Love,
Kassie P.

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What’s You Platform Miss San Jose?

Though I can name over hundreds of reasons why the city of San Jose is so great, I must admit my city is sadly experiencing some troubled times. To many of us in San Jose, it’s been no surprise that we have been plagued with an up-rise of gang violence. With the most recent and largest gang sweep in Santa Clara County history of indicting 48 “Nuestra Familia” members, gang activity is no longer just in prisons. It has now has spilled over into our streets, rapidly affecting our youth, many who happen to be of Latino decent. In most recent times, a 16-year-old boy was beaten and shot to death in broad day light in the city’s highest gang activity region: East San Jose.*

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the philosophy of gangs and its members. As a matter of fact, in high school, the day after I got a concussion during a softball game, I ignored doctor’s recommendation to stay home from school only because I had worked so hard on my class speech and PowerPoint presentation on the history of gangs. Though I was never personally exposed to the gang lifestyle, I had multiple friends in the public school systems who were manipulated into the gang life, many who would fall through the cracks and end up in and out of jail, never to be heard of again.

Today I was doing my regular online news check when I happened to stumble across an article from the San Jose Mercury News about a mother who is struggling to pay for her son’s funeral costs. After reading further into the story, I realized the story was about the boy mentioned earlier in the post. The funeral is set to be scheduled this Friday only if the family can raise the balance of $5,000. According to the non-profit organization, Mother’s Against Murder, the Urzua family has yet to come up with funds leaving the devastated mother unable to give her son his final respects. Moved by this story, I wanted to help in any way possible so I decided to create a GoFundMe page for the family. GoFundMe.com** is an online fundraising page for different causes where people from all over can donate money. Though I have only set up the page today and have not yet received any donations for the family, I am hopeful I can help in any way.

Though pageant contestants are known for having platforms, I personally believe all people should be advocates for a cause. Yes I’ll admit, being a representative of San Jose for Miss California Latina is pushing me that extra mile to get more involved in the community but I think when there is an issue that is starting to make headlines left and right, action must be taken and that, I can not ignore.

* To read more please visit http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_23591787/san-jose-mom-struggling-bury-teen-son-killed

** To donate to the Urzua family please visit http://funds.gofundme.com/index.php?route=fundmanager&url=3h682w

 

 

 

Love,
Kassie P.