Do you remember high school? Did you love your friends and classes? Did you just want to get through it and onto the next chapter? What about your family–were they tight knit and happy, or distant and difficult to be around? Every teenager has a different story to be told. They all have different home lives, different experiences in class and with their friends–they all have a story that is being affected by their community. They are also in a time of their lives where it feels like every decision could affect everything. What college are you going to? What career path are you choosing? How are your grades? Extracurriculars? Job experience? How many connections do you have? What are your talents? The list goes on and on. Imagine how difficult navigating all of this would be if you did not have the proper guidance, or if you struggled with mental illness, poverty, and trauma. This is the reality many of our youth face, and it is our responsibility as a community to step in, speak up, and advocate for them.
This last summer Thrive had the opportunity to send a talented boy named Alvaro to an elite wrestling camp in Portland, OR. Alvaro is an example to the youth in our valley that with the advocacy provided by a community, it really is possible to be successful regardless of your circumstances. He is an excellent wrestler and had the opportunity to go to this camp because of his hard work, a caring teacher, and a community nonprofit that believes he, along with the rest of our youth, is worth the time and money. He has returned after completing a very physically challenging camp agenda and loves to share his story of what he has learned, how he is better with life, school, and work management, and how he can practice respect to his superiors in a new way. Alvaro is why Thrive exists. We cannot wait to watch him succeed in life and reach his full potential because he grew up in a community that believes he matters and deserves to be loved.