An Amazing Journey

This will be the first of many newsletters to keep you up to date with current events at KYJO. Many people harbored doubts about our ability to accomplish many of the feats that we have achieved in this short time of our existence. When people tell you that something is impossible, we turn to them and say "I'm Possible!" With that mind set, we were determined to prove all wrong. I knew our vision was achievable because my burning passion to help and care for kids in need was, and still is, undeniable.

My other passion is football, especially my high school (Narbonne) and college (Fresno State) alma maters. Accordingly, I wanted to develop a program that combines both my passions, in order to take them both to the next level and beyond! My professional career with the Green Bay Packers was cut short because of a serious knee injury, but I still fought back. This past summer we were blessed to have the opportunity to hire 11 of the current 2012 Fresno State Bulldog Football players for summer jobs as child care counselors. While I was playing college football, there was never an opportunity to obtain meaningful jobs during the summer. These gifted student athletes were given an opportunity that many never had before them. Well, let me tell you, their performance surpassed all expectations by leaps and bounds! The players started working just in time to be a part of our third annual VTR/KYJO Summer Olympics. The Summer Olympics week was power packed with fun, excitement, and encouragement for kids and mentors alike. Everyone participated and showed what they could do and ALL of the kids went above and beyond all expectations and made the week a success!

Prior to my recruiting trips during my senior year of high school, I had never met a Division 1 football player. However, our residents were blessed to be mentored several days a week for a few months by the gifted Student-Athletes from Fresno State. Now, when they watch a Fresno State game, they can personally say they know players on the field! The residents even had several opportunities to meet the players in the locker room after the games. The players' presence alone created a world of difference for these kids. Opportunities don't come like this all the time. I would like to thank you Connie, from VTR, for believing in this vision three years ago and helping to make all of it possible. Every year the VTR/KYJO summer Olympics has grown. This year we had nearly 100% participation from the kids. Can't wait for next year!!!

This fall we were blessed with another very successful fundraiser, KYJO's 1st annual BBQ Cook-Off/Bring it Home Weekend. The goal here was to raise money for KYJO and to help bring the Fresno State Football Alumni back into the fold in order to reconnect and support the Football Team and the University. Many, many unforeseen obstacles threatened to derail this event. If I had hair, it would have fallen out again! It was mighty tempting to throw in the towel on many different occasions, but at KYJO we also teach by setting a good example for the kids. Where the objective is important and good things can be accomplished, which was truly the case with this event, giving up is simply never an option!!! We embraced the challenges and did what we had to do to make it a successful weekend. The fundraiser became a 'Fun'raiser but that didn't matter anymore because the kids and the many Fresno State football alumni exhibited nothing but priceless smiles. In my experience, a smile is a window of opportunity that leads to the chance to make true progress with our precious youth of today.

KYJO recently made the critical leap to expand our services to Non-Minor Dependents (NMDs).. I would like to thank all my corporate staff that helped put the new program together. When we work together, we are a phenomenal, unbeatable team! The decision to expand our reach to the NMDs was an easy one. It used to sadden me beyond description when a resident "aged-out" of the program upon turning 18 and was forced to leave our care but had nowhere to go. Even with AB. 12, the problem still remained because it wasn't geared primarily for group homes. In addition, many of the county workers of some of our residents, who had stepped down to a lower level of care, would ask if we had foster families within KYJO because both the resident and the worker wanted to stay within our care. This prompted us to work hard and developed our own program to acquire our very own Family Foster Agency (FFA).

Here at KYJO we are about opportunities and exposure. Some youth who are placed here initially don't believe in themselves and tend to give up easily. Why? Because society has told them over and over that they cannot be successful in any endeavor. At KYJO we tell them prove society wrong! Let's develop the new person that you can become that will be accepted by society. I use the term "learn" because many youth cringe when you tell them that you want to "change" them. Believe me, if they think you are forcing them to change, they will make sure they don't. However, when it's about learning something new they are much more accepting of what really turns out to be dramatic change.

Most of the kids are up to the challenge and we explain to them that the road to learning a "different way of life" won't be easy. It's just like learning a new subject in school. Some subjects come easy, and some are very hard. This is where you need that extra assistance or tutoring. That's why it's our job as counselors/mentors to "tutor" these kids to learn the skill sets that society has told them are simply out of reach. A few don't get the concept at first mention, so I simply tell them to make sure you are better today than you were yesterday. How can you succeed without failure first? Learn from each of your mistakes and improve each and every single day. With our kids, the first steps are always the most difficult. But without those first steps, change cannot begin or even occur. One of my favorite sayings has always been the classic from the German philosopher, Wolfgang Von Goethe:

"WHAT EVER YOU CAN DO, OR DREAM YOU CAN DO, BEGIN IT. BOLDNESS HAS GENIUS, POWER AND MAGIC IN IT. BEGIN IT NOW!"

I have found that a big component of learning the new and improved persona is a change in day to day attire. All residents will be provided with business clothing upon leaving our program. Some don't like it at first but as soon as they put the clothes on, they see how other people immediately view them differently, but in a positive light. This is when they "get it" and love the positive feedback! That's why I take the time to help pick out suits for all of my male residents. I would like to personally thank Tony of the Fresno Suit Outlet for making that possible over the last two years. Our kids really appreciate it! The problem we get now is that they want to wear the suit everywhere. That is one problem I can deal with!

In this five year span, there have been many ups and some downs. If we were a roller coaster we would resemble the X2 at Magic Mountain. If you aren't familiar with this coaster, please Google it and you will know exactly what I mean. It feels like you're going to die at several points, and many have passed out trying to ride it, and many others didn't even attempt to ride from the sight of it alone. Well, for the people who took the leap of faith and jumped on the coaster, we are still alive and kicking! As the quote states "Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs...but it's your choice to either scream or enjoy the ride. Be Positive." It doesn't matter which you do because at the end of every roller coaster ride after it comes to a complete stop, most say that it was fun! (Even if they were the ones doing the most screaming). For the few that say they can't handle the ride or it's too scary, we are all still here, and have lived to tell about the glory of conquering the coaster!

"You know what happens when you don't take a chance...NOTHING!!!"

If I didn't live by that motto, you would not be reading this today. Five years ago, I took the leap of faith and opened our first group home in Hanford, CA (KYJO). Thanks to my hard working staff, our many supporters, and that thing called 'opportunity', we are now up to six group homes, and we are now approved to conduct training (Continuing Education and Initial Certification Training for Group Home Administrators, Managing Aggressive Behavior (MAB), CPR & First-Aid, and Water Safety) throughout the state of California, and will soon be opening our Family Foster Agency (FFA) in the coming months. We are truly blessed and the hard work doesn't go unnoticed. Let's go another five years and beyond!

Happy 5th year anniversary KYJO family!

With Much Love and Appreciation to All My Valued Staff, Teammates, Family, Friends, and countless supporters...Thank you!!!

Be Motivated!!!
Kevin Jordan

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