A Partnership for Success: UrbanLife Cafe + Garden @ the YMCA

We are thrilled to announce an exciting partnership with the Copley-Price YMCA and our UrbanLife Tables culinary program. This July, UrbanLife will launch a full-service cafe, offering quality coffee and healthy food options to the thousands of people that visit the Y daily. 

UrbanLife's commitment to developing young neighborhood leaders paired with the Y's vision for healthy youth and families is a perfect partnership!

The cafe will serve as a base of operations for workforce training and development for youth, giving them real-time work experience serving customers, preparing healthy food, and helping to operate a successful small business. 

UrbanLife has also been awarded a Community Development Block Grant from the City of San Diego to create a rooftop learning garden at the Copley-Price Y, expanding the programs of UrbanLife Farms and engaging the 500+ youth that are involved at the YMCA. 

We are so excited about this new partnership with the Copley-Price YMCA, and the ways it can expand UrbanLife's ability to offer training, job skills, and a supportive environment for youth in City Heights and Southeastern San Diego!

Interested in learning more and/or getting involved? We need your help to make this new venture a success! Schedule a tour today.

What does YOUR summer look like?!

2016 High School Camp 

2016 High School Camp 

Are you an UrbanLife student looking for summer stuff? We made a page just for you!


Summertime is here! As those June gloom clouds dissolve and you hit the beach... consider how important summer can be for a young person. What did you do as a young person during the summer... get your first job? Go to summer school? Get up to no good? 

A recent article by the San Diego Foundation talks about the huge need for positive summer activities, especially for underserved, low-income youth. In our neighborhoods, young people don't always have access to academic resources and development opportunities during the summer months. Another article from the New York Times outlines how hard summer is on families, and how summer is often the place where the lack of affordable child care and the achievement gap collide for many.   

For all those reasons, summer is a crucial time for us at UrbanLife! We have tons of things happening to catch as many young people as possible and engage them in positive activities that challenge them into growth and leadership. Here are just a few of the things we have going on this summer:

Camp!
We're partnering up with Inner-City Young Life to try and send 100 middle and high schoolers to camp this June. Young Life camp is a wild and outrageous week, where students often hear and accept the gospel for the first time, and make some fantastic friends, usually under the muddiest or messiest of circumstances. Camp is life-changing! 
High School camp: June 17-22, Middle School camp: June 27-July 1

Jobs!
Getting a job is usually an important part of summer for a young person, not only for the cash, but also for the experience, for the discipline, and for the ways it can shape their education and career goals. Giving youth access to employment opportunities is good for our communities as well.  Research  points to widespread youth employment impacting overall societal health and success.  

UrbanLife offers youth first time job experience through UrbanLife Farms, City Heights Runners coaching opportunities, and is excited to have a much wider training and employment context in our new UrbanLife Cafe at the Copley-Price YMCA!
Farming 101: July 1-29, City Heights Runners Coaches: June 12-July 15

Academics!
To help close the gap, UrbanLife offers a few creative programs to keep students minds engaged. We are continuing our Literacy program for high schoolers, helping to improve english fluency and comprehension for our student runners, many who are resettled refugees. UrbanLife Robotix will run for the second summer in a row, offering STEM opportunities for middle schoolers through designing, building and programming. 
UCAN Literacy Program: June 20-Aug 3; UrbanLife Robotix: July 31-Aug 4

Leadership!
We are actively growing leaders throughout all our programs, but this summer there are two special opportunities for students to grow as leaders in their faith and through action. We will launch our new discipleship series, KingdomLife on July 5th. Every Wednesday, youth will gather to eat and discuss the basic of Christian life together. We hope each student that went to camp, and more, will join us to learn and grow. 

As a LiveWell San Diego partner, UrbanLife is thrilled to host a youth-focused Resident Leadership Academy in the Farming 101 program, through a grant from the City of San Diego. The Resident Leadership Academy provides the opportunity for young people to build leadership capacity and create positive changes in their neighborhoods. We're so excited to watch these young leader grow! 
KingdomLife: July 5-Aug 2, Resident Leadership Academy: July 1-29

Running!

City Heights Runners has new programs at Mann, Clark and Wilson, and will have 6 high school runners who will developing their leadership skills as junior coaches in our summer internship. We already had 50 middle school students show up for the first practice!
City Heights Runners Middle School Program, June 5-July 15

Stay tuned for more ways to get involved!

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Top 5 UrbanLife Highlights from 2016

by Sarah Carter, UrbanLife Executive Director

I love the end of the year.  The chance to remember all the great things from this past year and also look ahead to a fresh new year, full of potential! As the last days of 2016 slip away, here are my top 5 UrbanLife moments from the year: 

1. UrbanLife ROBOTIX

One of our Robotix teams assembling their robot. 

One of our Robotix teams assembling their robot. 

Through a donor's imaginative idea and generous donation, we launched our first UrbanLife Robotix camp for 4th-8th graders this summer. In our neighborhoods affordable summer activities are scarce and STEM learning is badly needed, so UL Robotix was a perfect fit! My favorite moment was when Robotix students and their families crowded around pairs of robots that the students had built and then programmed to battle each other, sumo wrestling style. The chaos in the room was pure joy. 

2. the UrbanLife Celebration Banquet
featuring: the Tables Culinary Competition

Josslyn from Team Harvest Kitchen plating their amazing Poached Beet Stack 

Josslyn from Team Harvest Kitchen plating their amazing Poached Beet Stack 

This year's banquet featured our brand new initiative, UrbanLife Tables, by pairing up our culinary students with top San Diego chefs and competing for guests votes throughout the night. It was a fun, delicious party that celebrated UrbanLife and our amazing supporters. Alex Carballo and Fred Miller of Team Moto Deli walked away with the win, but all of us won as we got to taste some true culinary delights and hear amazing student stories of transformation.

3. Crawford Colts for the win!

Crawford runners taking an ice break

Crawford runners taking an ice break

This was the first year that City Heights Runners coached and supported a new running program at Crawford High School, and the men were League champs! Story after story from the new teams at Crawford are both impressive and moving. These athletes worked hard on and off the track, as many of them participated in our UrbanLife College Achievement Network (UCAN) tutoring program, focusing on English remediation and ESL programs to help get students back on track (figuratively and literally)!  

4. UL Farms grant gets fresh veggies into students' homes

Student's social media posts about their cooking

Student's social media posts about their cooking

This fall, UL Farms received a grant from the Kaiser Foundation that enabled us to not only sell our veggies outside our neighborhoods through our CSA program, but also to send a bag of veggies home each week to our student crew. The students received nutrition and cooking classes to learn tasty ways to use what was in their bags, and challenged to post pictures cooking and eating their food on social media. This brought our UL Farms program to a new level of impact... not just providing first-time job experience and hands-on nutritional education as they grew food, but actually getting the produce into students' homes and teaching them how to use it. 

5. UrbanLife Strategic Plan

Strategic plans may not be the most exciting of highlights, but as an Executive Director, this definitely makes my list! In 2016, UrbanLife embarked upon our first ever strategic planning process with Board member and brand strategist Denise Yohn leading the charge. Through surveying, analyzing and countless hours of meetings, UrbanLife emerged with a focused strategy for the next three years: aligning programs and resources towards youth leadership developing in our neighborhoods. We are more committed and focused than ever to invest all our time and resources to raise up these young, talented, diverse leaders... believing that these transformed young people can and will transform our neighborhoods. That's pretty exciting, right?! 

Thanks for helping make all these moments happen! We are grateful for every volunteer, supporter, and prayer partner as we create safe spaces for students to encounter God and be developed as a leader! 2017 is guaranteed to be as full as this past year, and we can't wait to get the year started. 

Happy New Year from our neighborhoods to yours!

Restoring Voices through Reading

UCAN student Rico is a junior at Crawford High School and reads at a 2nd grade level.  His joyful demeanor masks a too common reality for recently resettled immigrants in this country – Rico is voiceless.  
 

Rico arrived to the United States from Guatemala in 2014 and was enrolled in school not knowing a single word of English and little Spanish, as his native language is a Mayan dialect spoken by only a small group of people in the world –Kaqchikel.    

 

At Crawford High, with over 30 registered languages and 80 different dialects spoken by the student body, it is an understatement to say that the school is poorly equipped to fully address the needs of its students. Rico is chronically behind in his classes, has a low GPA, and recently became ineligible to run on Crawford’s Cross Country team –the one level-playing field he had available to him.

 

When we met Rico and saw the huge gap between what he needed and what his high school could resource, UrbanLife knew it had to help. It is not justifiable to blame teachers and there was no more time to wait for ESL academic-reform, so UCAN devoted resources to bridging the remediation gap. This summer, UCAN hosted a five-week summer Literacy Program focused around five core reading strategies with high need ESL students. And this fall, UCAN completely shifted its focus to English & Reading Comprehension remediation in response to so many of our students in similar situations. Volunteers like Doug and Jeannie Amidon prepare customized ESL lessons to work one-on-one with Rico and other students who are recent arrivals.

 

We must continue to help Rico, because no one else is. We can’t let him be shuffled onto the next grade because of an under-resourced public high school.  Help us protect Rico from exploitation or becoming even more susceptible to illegal activity as a means to earn a living.  Instead, let’s get Rico to proficient 11th grade English, a monumental goal given the limited time we have.  But with your help, Rico hunger to learn the language and his commitment to show up at UCAN we can create a different future for this young student.

Fall Student Story: Tim T.

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I've been in UrbanLife since I was an 8th grader. I really enjoy going to the weekly outreach program, summer leadership trips and Mission Weeks. During my freshman year I was part of UrbanLife's high school internship "The Come Up", and at the time, it was hard for me to take it seriously due to hardships around me. But because of it, I've learned a lot about my story and how to reflect and bring God into it.  I grew up in a radically embraced Buddhist home where I had to have good morals and follow all the teachings of Buddhism or Buddha would not love me at all. After four years of being a part of UrbanLife I have finally learned that God will love me no matter what I do. I don't have to follow strict guidelines to gain his love. I just always know that he will love me for who I am. 

I have learned that through anything I do God is always there to guide me with strength and guidance. I tend to have a lot of anxiety and had trouble dealing with it. After Camp this year I learned about prayer and was challenged by Romin to try to pray when I felt my anxiety.  I was surprised to feel God's warm light when I prayed and it really helped calm me down!

Life feels hard now but in my heart I know Jesus has a plan and he showed me Romans 8:18 recently and that has given me hope in the promise of future joy. I really like high school small group nights because I keep learning about a God who can help me find my real purpose. 

We did the math, and UrbanLife staff and volunteers have invested over 640 hours being with Tim, eaten over 320 meals with him and have spent many hours praying over his life. Why? All so he would know he's truly loved by God and has a community that believes in him.

Onto a New Track!

We had dreamed of this for four years, but when it happened we were still scared. Crawford High, the most diverse high school in California, was ready for us…but were we ready for them?

The Hoover cross-country team had grown in size and strength, and my husband Tlaloc and I had developed into coaches who were ready to take on our own team. There were more than a few challenges: Crawford hadn’t had a full competing team in 13 years, despite many newly arrived refugee students with undeveloped talent. We would be starting from scratch with students who had never heard of cross-country. We would be leaving Chris Brewster at Hoover High with a large team…but no assistant coach. We would have to stretch resources (vans, money, and tutoring volunteers) between two teams…would it be possible? We stepped forward in faith, believing that God would graciously provide for our needs.

And He did!

Telling the Hoover students was difficult for us, because we love them and their families so much! However, they really understand the vision of City Heights Runners and the need at Crawford. As Mirella Cruz said, "You gotta share the love, Coach." They thanked us and promised to continue to build a caring, supportive family culture of excellence. Hoover now has three assistant coaches including Spanish speakers, female coaches, and even a teacher at Hoover…all our bases are covered! Sharing resources has been a delicate dance, but things always work out. And the success of the Crawford team has blown us away!

We started coaching cross-country at Crawford six months ago, but God started working in our students’ lives many years ago. The team, which is almost entirely brand-new runners, has developed a really sweet family environment. These young athletes are refugees and immigrants, people who have been displaced and discarded by conflict in their home countries, only to arrive to a neighborhood familiar with violence and struggle and an educational system that is indifferent to their success or failure. They have created the family that they longed for within the team. They bring food for each other, cheer for each other at both meets and in school, and demonstrate amazing patience as they work to overcome language and cultural barriers to reach a common goal.

As coaches, we try to communicate the value that they have in God’s eyes through small practical actions. Every day, we bring fruit for a post-practice snack, we open our doors to feed hungry harriers multiple times weekly, we organize pool parties and movie nights for team bonding, we talk with their parents, and we help them reframe their difficult circumstances in a more hopeful light. The high value we place on the students as beloved children of God seems to be contagious, and the kids pass it on in the way that they treat each other. Many of the runners have expressed that this is the best team they have ever been part of the because it feels like their teammates and coaches really care about them, and many have committed to running during the off-season instead of playing other sports.

For being first-time athletes, the kids have really surprised us with their perseverance, resilience….and talent! On the boy’s side, Crawford went undefeated in league competition and now are the City League Champions for the first time since 2003, besides strong showings in invitations scattered across southern California. With the ladies, we had the first full scoring team since 2003 and took 3rd place in the City League. We hope that these brave ladies (who have overcome so many barriers just to join a sport!) are the vanguard of a new generation of female athletes from our neighborhood.

The unexpected success of the team has brought a flourishing of hope to the school. Teachers, administrators, security guards, alumni and other students congratulate the runners on their success. The janitors eagerly ask how the team is doing as they open up their office so we can get ice for a post-workout trash-can ice bath. Families come cheer at the races and generously supply food for all our events. We want this bright new hope to have staying power. It is hope to envision things not yet seen, to move forward together, to support each other, to be a transformed community. But these things are not yet fully a reality.

Students still struggle at Crawford to not only be eligible, but to thrive academically. Female runners face incredible obstacles before even stepping foot on the track. But you can make a difference for these athletes. By supporting UrbanLife, you give each runner a taste of a new future.  Every dollar you give that buys running shoes or puts gas in our vans makes a real difference for students at this struggling inner-city school. Let's partner together to keep these kids running!

Back to School in our 'hoods

Remember how it felt to head back to school each fall? Buying those new school supplies, meeting your teacher, finding your friends after a long summer? For many students, heading back to school is an exciting time of year (we know it is for parents!) 

For students in our neighborhood, going back to school isn't always that exciting. Imagine you're an English language learner and already failing your first progress reports. Or facing teachers that aren't creating learning environments, who don't seem to care about you or your success. Navigating the normal perils of high school, but adding gangs, racial profiling, and turf wars to the mix.

These are all things we've seen or heard from our students this fall as they return to school. Southeastern and City Heights are home to 7 of the top 10 most avoided neighborhood schools, and none of our schools make the top 10 best neighborhood schools list. 

But God has UrbanLife right in the thick of it! We are supporting our students and our local schools... by volunteering as Class Advisors, working with ASB leadership, or coaching and raising money for athletics teams. And when students need a break from homework, we've got safe spaces for them to learn about Jesus, make some new friends, and be loved on by our staff and volunteers.

Here are some of the ways we get involved on campus and beyond:

Volunteering on campus: One of our UrbanLife distinctives is Incarnational Ministry... taking a cue from Jesus and not waiting for students to come to us, but heading out to where they are...usually on campus! So Romin is the Crawford 2017 Class Advisor, trying to find the best place for prom, encouraging class leaders, and in general being an adult who cares about students and their senior year. Cindy is busy at Horace Mann, volunteering in an AVID class and making connections with middle schoolers. Amanda has been at Lincoln tutoring ESL students. And our favorite? Kathy Pham, Hoover High's lunchtime DJ. #spinningforjesus

Athletic support and involvement: City Heights Runners provides amazing support to the athletics departments of Wilson Middle, Hoover and now Crawford High school, mainly focused on Track & Field + Cross Country but also affecting other sports like wrestling and football. UrbanLife staff and volunteers coach teams, raise money, and even provide gear and trips that wouldn't be offered to these athletes. The impact is felt on middle and high school campuses and beyond, as we help athletes apply for college, connect with sports teams and coaches on campus, and even drive them hours to help register, move into dorms, and get settled. 

UCAN academic support: The UrbanLife College Achievement Network is there to fill in the gaps for students not at grade level, struggling to see themselves continuing their education past high school, or just needing a little extra homework help that they may not get at home. This year, UCAN will focus on our runners and helping everyone be and stay eligible. There is also tutoring happening through our UL Farm internships. And as we head into the college application season, UCAN will gather students from all throughout UrbanLife, taking them to college fairs, FAFSA info sessions, college tours and more. 

In truth, all of our programs are designed to support our students and continue to develop them as leaders in their neighborhoods. Our youth groups give them safe spaces to blow off steam from a heavy school week, play silly games, and hear about Jesus. UrbanLife Farms and Tables gives them job skills that will serve them now, and long after they graduate. Tutoring and running teams provide opportunities that otherwise wouldn't exist. 

We love students, and we want each one to succeed. But more than that, we want each student to know they are loved and cherished by Jesus, and that UrbanLife is one of their biggest fans. 

What would an UrbanLife summer be without life-changing adventure trips, leadership opportunities, jobs and of course...the summer hangouts! When it's hot, and you got nothing to do, we got you covered! 

Check out our line-up of summer happenings around UrbanLife, and get involved as a student or volunteer! 

UrbanLife Summer 2016 Timeline:

  • Wednesday, June 15th: CollegeLife Senior Night! 
    6pm @ Orange Avenue
    A chance for high school seniors to check out our CollegeLife community and get involved now that high school's almost over...! Contact romin@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • UrbanLife Table Cohort #2 Starts!
    Our second 10-week culinary cohort begins June 23rd. If you're 18 or older and interested in a paid culinary arts internship, contact josh@urbanlifesd.org for more info!
     

  • June 23-27 City Heights East Adventure Trip
    Crawford High schoolers, get your adventure on by heading up to Zion National Park. Contact romin@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • June 27-July 1 City Heights West Adventure Trip
    It's your turn Hoover High... adventure up in Zion National Park. Contact chris@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • June 28-July 26th (Tues/Thur 4-7:30p, Sat 8:30a-12:30p) UrbanLife Farms Farming 101
    Want a job this summer? Want to meet cool kids and plant some stuff? Apply for our Farms 101 summer farm internship. Contact amanda@urbanlifesd.org for more info. 
     

  • July 3rd-30th Come Up: Summer '16
    Our Student Leaders Internship, Contact kathy@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • July 10-Aug 12 UCAN Summer Literacy Program
    Come and boost your reading and writing skills with UCAN! Contact jose@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • July 5-9th CollegeLife Mexico Trip
    Come serve on our house-building trip for college students. Contact romin@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • July 24-29th Middle School Camp
    Our middle schoolers will head up to Forest Home for a life-changing week of camp! Contact cindy@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • July 31-August 6 High School Camp
    Next the High Schoolers are headed to YoungLife camp for a life-changing week of camp!
     

  • August 7-14 Southeast Adventure Trip
    Lincoln and Gompers... your turn for an adventure trip to Big Sur and the Bay Area! Contact amanda@urbanlifesd.org for more info.
     

  • August 14-18 City Heights Runners Camp
    The runners are headed to Santa Cruz for the week. Contact chris@urbanlifesd.org for more info.

On-going activities:

  • Summer Hangouts... fun spaces to meet new friends, explore who God is, and have fun. Contact romin@urbanlifesd.org (Crawford), cindy@urbanlifesd.org (Mann), chris@urbanlifesd.org (Hoover), amanda@urbanlifesd.org (Lincoln and Gompers).
     
  • Friday Night UrbanMic... fourth Friday of each month, going strong through the summer! Contact amanda@urbanlifesd.org for more info. 
     
  • City Heights Runners practice... yes, it's hot, yes, we still run! Contact chris@urbanlifesd.org for info.

Banquet Thanks!

UrbanLife Celebration Banquet 2016

Our 6th Celebration Banquet was a great success on May 15th, with over 280 people in attendance, a fantastic culinary competition pairing San Diego chefs with UL Tables Culinary students, and powerful stories from our own UrbanLife students. 

Many thanks to our guest chefs from The Lab Dining, Harvest Kitchen, NV Private Dining, Cueva Bar, and our winning team, Moto Deli!  Many thanks to Snake Oil Cocktails for providing delicious "mocktails" and Twin Treats for some scrumptious desserts! 

Thanks to our 2016 Table Hosts and all our volunteers for helping put on a fantastic night of celebration and partnership!

Mission Week 2016

  by Romin Irani

 

by Romin Irani

Mission Week is one of the most important things we do here at UrbanLife. We challenge students to give up their spring breaks to be mindful of and serve others in their own neighborhood. That's a pretty big ask for a high schooler! Last week 23 students showed up to make a difference in City Heights.

We partnered with one of our initiatives San Diego Refugee Tutoring to put on a three-day camp for 29 of their English language learners, almost all have been in America for less than 3 years.

Josue who has been involved since he was in 7th grade, decided to join us this year. I remember Josue as a camper at middle school camp having trouble being kind to his roommates, having new issues daily with people...fast forward to Josue the sophomore at Mission Week, a young man whose leadership and excitement for kids was radiating.

Josue would raise his hand everyday during our debriefs about the camp and share his highlight "I can't believe how much I really enjoy doing things for these kids, I'm really looking forward to serving them again tomorrow." The whole week we taught on Philippians 2 and how our God is one who calls us to a team oriented, humble, selfless life of service to others as modeled by Jesus himself.

Josue not only heard the gospel at Mission Week, he was given a chance to LIVE the gospel out, to spend time with God and engage in his mission to change the world alongside others. Josue caught a glimpse of what a life following Jesus has the potential to look like and he was overjoyed by it more than we expected!

Thank you for all your prayers, Mission Week was a huge success... possibly our best week yet!

Deep Leadership Development: The Come Up Retreat

by Kathy Pham and Lina Bell


by Kathy Pham and Lina Bell

The Come Up Internship runs throughout the year with a cohort of hand-picked student leaders, meeting weekly, offering them significant leadership opportunities in our community, and doing the deep work of character building with Jesus as the main role-model, guide, and source of strength. Here is a report from our latest Come Up retreat... with powerful student testimonies.

Our hope for The Come Up Internship is to portray Jesus’ characteristics in our lives; specifically leadership with Jesus as our model. During our retreat, we focused on the events that occurred within Passion Week. The high school students examined how Jesus and the surrounding people initiated and reacted to key events in the passages. We learned the root Hebrew word for passion: suffering.  To better illustrate passion, we watched the film The Passion of the Christ.  The film exposed a lot of darkness!  After Jesus was crucified the screen blackouts and the stone is rolled away, the light begins to appear in the scene, comparably in our own lives we experience darkness and if allow it, God can pierce through the darkness and exemplify His light and sovereignty in our lives.  
After, art therapist, Lisa Kemble led our creative response. We created boxes which recognized the darkness that is prevalent in our lives and artistically depicted the amount of light we allow in it.  Boxes differed based on how much permission we allowed Light to enter into our darkness. *April painted a monster inside her box and drew a beautiful tree on the outside of her box.  She used the same colors inside and outside of the box because that is what God does; He redeems our darkness.
The spirit of God was moving throughout the day:
  • *Jasmine admitted that she shared the same behavior as Peter when he denied Jesus. She confesses that when it comes to her friends she doesn’t acknowledge and share her relationship with God, in a sense she denies Jesus.
  • *Brian identified and acknowledged Christ’s pain!  He was shocked by the pain Jesus endured and questioned why anyone would allow that to happen to Him.   
  • *Melody realized that God’s work isn’t something of the past but He is working in our lives now, *Melody said, “God has been saying a lot…that being perfect is not my objective but being human is.”
During the personal response time, students were asked to raise their hands to reveal where their hearts were. Half decided to actively seek Jesus!  They now are investigating what it means for them to live a life with and for Jesus with hopes to be world changers, truth tellers, and leaders in their own lives and the lives of their community.  The other half of the students reaffirmed their commitment to journey with Jesus and wanted to strengthen their relationship and intentionally live for Him!  
(*names changed to protect privacy)

Introducing UrbanLife Tables

It is with great pleasure that we announce our newest community development initiative, UrbanLife Tables. UrbanLife Tables is a culinary initiative that will have two components, a food business (think:catering) that will generate income and employ young people and a culinary training program that will equip students with skills to launch careers in the culinary or hospitality industries in San Diego and beyond!

We are so excited to bring Josh Kemble on board as the Director of UrbanLife Tables. He comes with an impressive culinary resume, has tons of connections here in San Diego, and brings hands-on experience starting and growing a youth culinary program in San Francisco. 

We asked Josh to share a little more about himself and this new initiative.

Josh and his wife, Lisa. They have three children: Eden, Rhythm, and Xander. 

Josh and his wife, Lisa. They have three children: Eden, Rhythm, and Xander. 

Share a little about yourself and what drew you on staff with UrbanLife? 
For starters, my spiritual gifts are teaching, mercy, and hospitality.  I took one of those job skills assessments, and I was supposed to be a lumberjack, a missionary, or a restaurant owner.  I've still been trying to find a way to use all my gifts, chop down forests in foreign countries, and serve the community some hot meals. 

I moved the family up to San Francisco in 2010 to start up a non-profit restaurant training program, and while we were gone, UrbanLife was taking continuing to grow.  When we moved back to San Diego in 2013, we started attending Orange Ave Community Church, where UrbanLife was doing church services.  I was asked to help with various food needs and functions like Christmas service for the entire church community, or the annual UrbanLife gala.  I gladly said "yes" to coordinating and cooking for hundreds of people, and was able to see a lot of youth at work during the process.  There was constant mention that I should take my volunteering and past training experiences to the next level within the organization, but the timing wasn't right just yet.  

I felt a pull towards working more with UrbanLife at the end of 2014.  I met with Sarah, on a mildly cloudy day, at the first UrbanLife Farm.  We talked about what it would look like to start a culinary training initiative of our own, and started to hash out some details.  We let the thought sit for a few months.  It came up again, and we thought May 2015 might be a good time to start, after the annual gala.  Almost a year later, after giving it a lot of time, prayer, consideration, fasting, and talking, we decided September 2015 would be best.  In the between time, I was meeting more of the young folks in the neighborhoods and communities where we live, all the while watching them grow in spiritual, mental, and professional ways.  The foundation for a new initiative within the organization was forming.

What are your dreams for the UL Culinary Initiative? 

To see people get trained in any foodservice/hospitality job they want to learn, maybe even some they didn't know about! To see our own folks get hired out to other professionals, or to help them start their own businesses.  To see lives transformed through the power of food and drink.  To be a competitor in the industry, as well as the choice of many many happy clients/customers/guests when they need some delicious food made.

What have you seen programs like this do for the young people involved and the community?

This social enterprise model helps people find training and jobs in a field that is always in need of more skilled workers.  We help those who may have a hard time finding the right path due to circumstances beyond their control; people like international refugees, previously incarcerated youth, young folks who haven't had any experience or gained the confidence one needs to be an asset to a growing workforce.  Programs, organizations, and businesses with similar mentalities and missions all want the same result- "to see lives transformed, via the time they are providing the trainee to become that much closer to excellence."  We all have the same goal, but spelled out in different paragraphs. It could be restaurants, job readiness, college prep, athletics, big brothers/sisters, speaking, etc.  We all want to see the young adults thrive in their current surroundings, succeed on a legitimate path, and excel beyond their perceived capacity for knowledge.  

The programs succeed when enrollees, trainees, interns, all stay within the boundaries of the program's training timelines.  When it is rushed or when they quit, you see a decline in the success of not only the program, but the individual him/herself, and ultimately the community with which they surround themselves.  The program, the individual, and the community must work together, in order for each other to maintain and move forward. 

How can people get involved?
Volunteer! The farms are a great place to start, as our menus and offerings will be based on our seasonal produce.  I myself need to hone my farm knowledge so I'm planning on getting out there, planting and harvesting along with the team.  The total definition of "hands-on training"!  For events we need people who are friendly, maybe with some ktichen and service knowledge... We'll always need help training, mentoring, honing skills, teaching special jobs, and basically just being a positive figure in transformable lives.

Josh directing student servers at the 2014 UrbanLife Banquet.

Josh directing student servers at the 2014 UrbanLife Banquet.

UrbanLife Summer 2015

Check out what's going on at UrbanLife for the summer:

Youth Activities:

  • Tahoe Trip (FULL!) June 18-22
    Contact Romin for more info. 
  • UrbanMic Night June 26 @ 7pm  (Southeast Community Church, 210 S. Euclid 92114)
    Contact Amanda for more info.
  • The Ground-Up Internship July 1-25
    Contact Sarah or Amanda for more info. 
  • High School & College Mexico Trip July 5-10
    Contact Romin for more info. 
  • Middle School Camp July 17-24
    Contact Cindy for more info.
  • UL Farm Supervisor Training August 4-29
    Contact BJ for more info. 

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Host a meal for the Ground Up Internship crew. Contact Amanda for more details. 
  • Join a high school or middle school summer hang out and develop relationships that could last into the school year. Contact Romin (Middle School or Crawford High) or Chris (Hoover High) for more info. 
  • Volunteer at one of the UrbanLife Farms sites. Bring just yourself, or a group. Contact BJ for more info.

There are lots of ways to get involved at UrbanLife... for the summer and beyond! Fill out our volunteer form and get started!

 

 

2015 UrbanLife Celebration Banquet

We held our 5th Annual Celebration Banquet this Sunday at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, and it was a huge success! With overflowing tables, student serves, a food truck and some spectacular live music, the evening was a lively celebration of UrbanLife Ministries. 

We debuted our new promo video, heard a brief update from Founder Jake Medcalf (via webcam), and listened to Board Chair Bill Nichol and Executive Director Sarah Carter speak about the recent leadership transition, and the vision for the next season of UrbanLife. 

Sarah outlined three areas of focus for ministry in the next year:

  • Increased volunteer partnerships: Linking volunteers from within and outside our communities to meaningful opportunities to serve young people and make a difference. Sign up for info about volunteering here. 
  • Developing young leaders: We will continue to be relentless about our development of young neighborhood leaders through internships, job opportunities, one-on-one mentoring and service opportunities. Look out for the Come Up Internship during the school year, the Ground Up Internship during the summer, and hopefully new college-age internship opportunities. 
  • Innovative solutions to neighborhood challenges: Just as UrbanLife Farms was developed in response to youth unemployment and vacant, unused lots in our neighborhoods, we will continue to find innovative solutions to the challenges our neighborhoods, and particularly our young neighbors, face. We have some great ideas in the works, so stay tuned! 

If you didn't make the banquet but would still like to give a donation, please visit our donation page. 

Thanks to our table hosts, guest chefs, performers and the guests that made it such a fantastic night!

2015 UrbanLife Celebration Banquet Photos