YES Stories

  • Post Thumbnail

    Parent Demand, Community Partnership Spark Adult Spanish Class at Richmond College Prep

    “¡Buenos dias!” said Johnnie George Towns after catching a bright yellow ball from across the circle of her classmates. She tossed it to volunteer instructor Marcela Jaimes-Rodriguez, who smiled and responded, “buenas tardes.”Towns and a dozen others had gathered in the main entrance of Richmond College Prep (RCP), where parent interest and community support led to a unique chance for local adults to learn Spanish from one another at the charter school.“Over the years I have heard English s...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Reflections on 20 Years of YES from Blanca Hernández, Program Director

    I started working in Richmond in 2002 and that’s how I first came to know the resiliency of the people in this community, along with the systemic challenges they faced. At that time, organizations in Richmond were not as connected as they are now and everyone was doing their part to help out, but there was little time to stop and strategize to come up with upstream solutions.Once I started at YES in 2008, I fell in love with the organizational culture. Eric, Jo, and Demetria who were the members...  Read More...

  • Post Featured Image

    Water is life! Providing Access and Education to San Pablo Students.

    The challenge that YES teens took on was an urgent one. San Pablo, CA, a small city of approximately 30,000 residents, has the highest rate of childhood obesity (52%) in all of Contra Costa County. One of the causes of this alarmingly high number is that 73% of teens are estimated to consume one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day.   Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    An Interview with Verde Elementary Prinicipal Eric Acosta-Verprauskus

    YES Executive Director Eric Aaholm recently interviewed Verde Principal Eric Acosta-Verprauskus about his service path, work in North Richmond, and YES's impact within the school.In its role as the lead agency for the North Richmond Network, YES was committed to making sure the Verde community got the principal they deserved, and was instrumental in working with school district leadership to participate in the interviews that ultimately led to Principal A-V’s hire.What inspired yo...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    An Afternoon Cleaning up North Richmond

    Fulfilling the Promise in This Neighborhood Requires Tenacity, and We Have It

    By Tana Monteiro, posted on Zócalo Public Square

    It was a Friday morning in July, and Guadalupe, Maria, and Dawn were at Wild Cat Creek in north Richmond, California, clipping and tearing invasive ivy out by its roots. They were obsessed with making sure every cottonwood tree thrived and had the chance to reach its fullest potential. A few yards down there was a cottonwood tree covered with ivy all the way up to i...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Year in the Life Profiles

      Nia is a 17 year old senior at DeAnza High School, who is gearing up to graduate and attend Laney College in the fall! She first attended summer camp with YES when she was nine years old. Nia and her younger siblings have gone to summer camp with YES through the years.When the Camp-to-Community (C2C) program at YES was gaining momentum and she was 14, Nia started attending C2C programming, and challenged herself by participating on one of YES’s first Urban Backpacking trip...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    How a Little Splashing Around Is Making My Neighborhood a Better Place

    By Tana Monteiro, posted on Zócalo Public Square

    Swimming Lessons Are Teaching My Community There's Nothing to Fear in Life's Deep End

    I work in North Richmond and the Iron Triangle as the Community Wellness Coordinator for YES Nature to Neighborhoods, a nonprofit that strengthens local families by taking them out into nature. These are hard, violent East Bay neighborhoods, full of vacant lots and run-down houses, with Chevron’s refinery always puffing away on the horizon. I work with 20 “Wellness Navigators”–women leaders who are learning to guide their families, neighbors, and themselves toward better health. Our goals are to get 200 minutes of exercise each week, have weekly conversations about diabetes, asthma, and other chronic health issues, and do workshops on nutrition. But creating a healthy community is a complicated process, and I want to tell you what the Navigators and I found when we went to the swimming pool together.


  • Post Thumbnail

    What Are Students Eating? A Teen Research Team Looks To Find Out

    By Chanelle Ignant, posted on The Richmond Pulse

    A team of high school students from across the West Contra Costa Unified School District is asking: “What are we eating?”Teens from the nonprofit group YES Nature To Neighborhoods have conducted a research project into the nutrition of meals served in the district’s 11 high schools.Gustavo Chavez, a sophomore at De Anza High School and member of the organization’s “youth engagement team”, said many of his peers don’t prefer the school meals, a view...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Volunteering for Change

    posted by YES' December 2014 eNewsletter

    For 10 years, YES has provided Family Camp weekend experiences for Central and North Richmond families. At Family Camp, families disconnect from the pressures of daily life so they can enjoy, relax and renew familial and community bonds with the support from dedicated staff and volunteers. YES volunteers are drawn to Family Camp because they experience the immediate impact they're contributing to during the course of a weekend. One of our most recent volunteers, Merrill Pierce, saw the impact at...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Leadership Pathways, from Camp to the Community

    posted on YES' December 2014 eNewsletter

    In the summer of 2009, Justin was 12-years-old and attended camp through YES for the first time. That summer many things were inspirational, and five years later, he still credits his first summer camp counselor as someone who made a major impact in his life. "After my first camp experience, I decided I was going to be a role model and do something important that makes a difference in people's lives," Justin recalls. Justin, pictured in the middle at YMCA Camp Loma Mar, was a Counselor...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Camper to Environmental Educator: Grecia Solis

    posted on YES' December 2014 eNewsletter

    "From the first day I set foot at Camp Loma Mar as a 6th grader, I fell in love with the redwoods and the all the natural beauty that camp has to offer. Ever since then, I have dedicated my education and professional career to outdoor environmental education. The natural outdoors and programs like YES made such an impact on me, I wrote my thesis on the importance of outdoor environmental education in my last year of college. Today I have obtained my dream job as an environmental science edu...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    The Power of Being Outside

    by Zaira Sierra posted on The Richmond Pulse

    For over four years, I’ve worked with Richmond families. I’ve volunteered with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization assisting undocumented youth with their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications and Building Blocks for Kids where I was part of the Community Engagement and Advocacy Team. Recently, I joined theYES Nature to Neighborhoods family. Parents want their children to grow up safe, educate...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Fill'er Up! Hydration Station Ribbon Cutting

    posted on YES' June 2014 eNewsletter

    As part of the "Be Smarter, Drink Water" Campaign, YES organized the July 9th ribbon cutting ceremony for a hydration station installation at the Richmond Recreation Complex located at 3230 Macdonald Ave Be Smarter, Drink Water is a community-driven project between YES, the Cityof Richmond and Contra Costa Health Services. The purpose of the campaign is to build health equity in Richmond by providing education about 1) local water systems and sources; 2) the health benefits of increased wa...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Learning to Swim

    posted on YES' March 2014 eNewsletter

    "I was so scared to even get into the water on the first day, but now after each class I feel more confident." - Maria, YES Wellness Navigator. With summer fast approaching and drowning rates higher among communities of color, YES partnered with Richmond Swims, a community group run in cooperation with Richmond Friends of Recreation, to provide YES' adult ambassadors, known as Wellness Navigators, the opportunity to gain this life saving skill. The swim lessons, led by swim coach, Benicia...  Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    Family Bonds

    posted on YES' December 2013 eNewsletter

    Sharmica and her younger siblings attended Family Camp for the first time in the fall of 2013. "I feel that Family Camp brought us all out of our shells and we bonded as a family. The experience taught me to be more open minded and made me want to be more active in nature. We enjoyed hiking, the various activities, and getting to know the families that live in our community who we'd never met before.   Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    The Gift I Give Myself

    posted on YES' December 2015 eNewsletter

    Maria joined YES' Wellness Program in 2012 after participating in Family Camps. "I have been a Wellness Navigator with YES for the past year and a half and it makes me very happy. We've been learning how to eat better and how to be healthy in our lives. Since I've joined the program, I have lost 35 pounds! I love to be part of YES because they are like my second family.   Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    A Wallflower No More!

    posted on YES' December 2013 eNewsletter

    Jessica joined C2C in 2012 after having gone to summer camps with YES for 5 years. "I used to be the quiet one in the family. I was basically a wallflower that just stood behind everyone else. However, when I got more involved with YES and with C2C, I started to socialize more and step out of my comfort zone.   Read More...

  • Post Thumbnail

    I'm Possible

    posted on YES' September 2013 eNewsletter.

    My name is Jorge, or Bazinga, as people know me at camp. When I was told that I got the job as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Loma Mar, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I was at school and I was shocked.   Read More...

RSS Feed