Familia Unida: Keeping kids away from drugs and crime by teaching them to work with their hands

Jun 13, 2024, 9:20 PM

A local organization is keeping kids away from crime and drugs one bike at a time. (KDRV via CNN Ne...

A local organization is keeping kids away from crime and drugs one bike at a time. (KDRV via CNN Newsource)

(KDRV via CNN Newsource)

JACKSON COUNTY, OR (KDRV) — A local organization is keeping kids away from crime and drugs one bike at a time. Familia Unida is a nonprofit that teaches children to channel aggression and negative experiences into healthy and constructive life skills through activities such as bike and car building.

The youth in the program learn these skills in groups as well as in one-on-one settings. Aside from building bikes and cars the youth assist in the community, participating in giveaways and community efforts such as graffiti cleanup.

The organization started by Rico Gutierrez and his wife provides mentorship to the youth, many of whom are at-risk, teaching them that they have a community that cares for them and they have many different options for their lives.

“The acronym of thug is traumatic human unable to grieve,” Gutierrez said.

That’s the life he lived before recovery from addiction — now he shows the children that they don’t have to be alone in handling life’s stress,

“I tell these kids it’s OK to cry, I try to tell them it’s okay to get emotional,” Gutierrez said.

Many of the youth who come in feel misunderstood or like they don’t have a community. The mentors at Familia Unida try to change their mind and the minds of a community that the children often feel doesn’t support them.

“We’re showing that the kids aren’t bad,” said lead volunteer coordinator Angela Brumana, “All kids need is some guidance and some love, and they can do anything they want.”

The organization is a part of the K.E.Y. Project (Keep Encouraging Youth). The project is a collaboration between the Gang Prevention Task Force, Jackson County Community Justice, Spartan Boxing and LifeArt.

One of the youth, Jessie Gomez, mentioned how the group helped to get him on the right path.

“I didn’t kick it with the right kind of people, and coming here they tell me all about the mistakes they made and how they learned from it and I was like ‘They’re the proof’,” he said, “I guess I learned from their stories.”

Gomez recently celebrated graduating high school, a feat he thanks the program for helping him accomplish.

Another participant in the program, Sheyla Valerio, expressed gratitude for the mentorship she gained through the program. She said she opened up through the community it provided her.

She said she is proud of how much herself and her life has changed since starting the program.

“Coming here was a great opportunity for me,” she said, “They helped me understand that I have something to live for.”

Click here for updates on this story.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2024, in ...

Chris Megerian, The Associated Press

Harris, endorsed by Biden, could become first woman, second Black person to be president

She's already broken barriers, and now Kamala Harris could shatter several more after President Joe Biden abruptly ended his reelection bid and endorsed her.

2 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at the 115th NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas, July 16, 202...

Michael Williams, CNN

Biden will not seek reelection

Biden announced he will not seek reelection.

5 hours ago

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee waits for the House speaker to arrive for a bill enrollment signing ceremon...

Michelle Shen, CNN

Sheila Jackson Lee, long-serving Democratic congresswoman and advocate for Black Americans, dies at 74

Sheila Jackson Lee, a longtime Democratic congresswoman from Texas who was an outspoken advocate for Black Americans for decades, has died. She was 74.

20 hours ago

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday about a deadly multistate...

Jen Christensen, CNN

Two dead in multistate listeria outbreak linked with sliced deli meat, CDC says

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday about a deadly multistate listeria outbreak connected to deli meat.

1 day ago

An aerial view shows law enforcement members at the home of Thomas Matthew Crooks in Bethel Park, P...

John Miller and Shania Shelton, CNN

Investigators believe Trump’s would-be assassin flew a drone over rally site on the day of the shooting

Investigators believe the gunman who attempted to assassinate former President Donald Trump may have used a drone on a reconnaissance trip to the rally site on the day of the shooting, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told CNN.

1 day ago

FILE - Children cool off at the Hamilton Fish pool, July 18, 2017, in the Lower East Side neighborh...

Tom Murphy, AP Health Writer

Do you really have to wait to go swimming after eating?

Did your parents warn you against jumping in the pool right after eating? They were misguided.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Familia Unida: Keeping kids away from drugs and crime by teaching them to work with their hands