Tempe MLK Diversity Awards

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We’ll talk to a couple of winners of the city of Tempe’s MLK Diversity Awards. Earl Newton of Hood 2 Hood Foundation, will tell us about his group, which seeks to teach and empower youth that hate is not the answer to problems in our society. Hood 2 Hood Foundation is the winner of the Community Group/Organization award. We’ll also hear from Destiny Medina, a winner of the individual youth award. She is a senior at Marcos de Niza High School, where she is a member of the Stand and Serve Club, a community-based program committed to violence prevention and positive youth development.

TED: PROFESSOR NEAL LESTER IS NOT ALONE IN BEING RECOGNIZED BY TEMPE'S MLK DIVERSITY AWARDS. TWO OTHERS JOIN US NOW. EARL NEWTON, THE WINNER OF THE COMMUNITY GROUP AWARD AND ALSO DESTINY MEDINA. DESTINY IS A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. DR. LESTER, GOOD TO HAVE YOU HANG AROUND FOR THE DISCUSSION. EARL -- HOOD TO HOOD. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

EARL NEWTON: IT'S A UNIVERSAL GRASS ROOT ORGANIZATION THAT DECIDED TO TACKLE HOMELESSNESS, VIOLENCE, DRUG ABUSE IN OUR COMMUNITIES. WE TAKE A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ATTACK THE WHOLE FAMILY, PARENTS TO SIBLINGS. A LOT OF TIMES WE DEAL WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE AND SEND THEM BACK TO THE ENVIRONMENT THAT HAD THEM OFF TRACK TO BEGIN WITH, SO WE DEAL WITH THE WHOLE FAMILY. MANY DON'T DO BETTER BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT EXPOSED TO BETTER.

TED: IT HAS TO BE DIFFICULT. DIFFICULT WITH ONE PERSON, GETTING THE WHOLE FAMILY TOGETHER HAS TO BE TOUGH.

EARL NEWTON: THE FAMILY IS REACHING OUT FOR HELP A LOT OF TIMES. IT'S EASIER WHEN THEY ARE REACHING OUT FOR HELP BECAUSE THEY REALIZE SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE.

TED: DESTINY, THE WINNER OF THE INDIVIDUAL YOUTH AWARD, A MEMBER OF THE STAND AND SERVE CLUB. WHAT IS THAT?

DESTINY MEDINA: IT'S A PLACE THAT TEACHES YOUNG KIDS THAT GO TO SCHOOL, TEACH THEM HOW RESPECT IS INVOLVED IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND HOW SHOWING RESPECT TO OTHERS CREATES A GOOD PLACE AND ENVIRONMENT FOR OTHERS TO BE IN. THEY LEARN TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE HURTING, WHO NEED HELP. THEY HAVE RESOURCES THAT WE GIVE THEM. WE ARE TEACHING THEM HOW TO LATER IN LIFE USE THESE SKILLS THAT THEY HAVE.

TED: THESE ARE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS. I IMAGINE THAT YOU HEAR ALL SORTS OF STORIES WHEN YOU MEET UP WITH THE KIDS, DON'T YOU?

DESTINY MEDINA: YEAH.

TED: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?

DESTINY MEDINA: I SIT AND LISTEN AND LET THEM TELL ME EVERYTHING THEY HAVE. AFTERWARDS, WE TALK ABOUT IT, FIGURE OUT SOMETHING WE CAN DO FOR THEM, SOMETHING AN OFFICIAL CAN HELP US WITH AND GET THEM RESOURCES.

TED: AS FAR AS WHAT THEY ARE DOING WORKING WITH THE FAMILY, WITH DESTINY DEALING WITH MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS, SHOWS THEM THAT'S NOT THE WAY. THE TECHNIQUES, ARE THEY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

NEAL LESTER: I THINK THE FUNDAMENTALS OF HUMANITY HAVE NOT CHANGED. EMPATHY, FORGIVENESS, SELF REFLECTION WE CALL HUMANITY 101, FUNDAMENTALS IN A SHARED HUMANITY HAVE NOT CHANGED. IT'S SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE TAUGHT. IT TRANSCENDS THE CULTURE. I DON'T THINK PEOPLE HAVE FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED. OUR CIRCUMSTANCES AND HOW WE RESPOND TO THE CHANGES CAN BE A LENS TO SHARED HUMANITY.

TED: THE IDEA THAT HATE, VIOLENCE, NEGATIVITY, A WHOLE LIST OF WORDS HERE IS NOT IN THE LONG RUN, THE ANSWER.

EARL NEWTON: CORRECT. I LIKE TO OFTEN QUOTE A QUOTE BY DR. KING OVERLOOKED THAT I LIVE BY PERSONALLY. I DECIDED TO STICK WITH LOVE BECAUSE HATE IS TOO GREAT A BURDEN TO BEAR. WE TALK ABOUT, I HAVE A DREAM. THE POWER OF LOVE, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT DIVERSITY, LOVE ALLOWS YOU, AT THE END OF THE DAY, POVERTY, HOMELESSNESS, DRUG ABUSE, THESE THINGS AFFECT PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF RACE, CREED OR COLOR. LOVE IS SOMETHING I PREACH ALL THE TIME. ONE SCRIPTURE SAYS LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS. UNDER THE BANNER OF LOVE, ALL OF US ARE THERE TOGETHER.

TED: HOW DIFFICULT -- YOU DEAL WITH GANGS. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO GET THROUGH TO SOME OF THESE KIDS?

EARL NEWTON: IT'S REALLY NOT DIFFICULT. WE COME FROM THE ASPECT -- I HAVE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE GANG COUNSELORS THAT HAVE DONE 25 YEARS IN PRISON. I PUT IDEAS OUT THERE AND I HAVE INDIVIDUALS THAT HAVE BEEN THERE. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO PRISON, BUT I HAVE INDIVIDUALS THAT HAVE BEEN TO PRISON. I DON'T TRY TO MAKE THAT CONNECTION. YOU HAVE A LOT OF THINGS YOU CAN READ IN BOOKS. UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR BOOTS TO THE GROUND, IT'S A DIFFERENT STORY. IT'S A DIFFICULT THING TO DO BUT WE HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO HAVE INDIVIDUALS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE ABLE TO MEET THESE YOUNG PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE.

TED: DESTINY, I KNOW YOU WERE A MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT IN YOUR LIFE. WHEN YOU DEAL WITH MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS NOW, DO YOU IMAGINE YOU ARE DEALING WITH YOURSELF AS A MIDDLE SCHOOLER?

DESTINY MEDINA: I IMAGINE MYSELF IN THEM AND HOW I FELT AND HOW THEY MUST BE FEELING. I APPROACH THEM AND SAY, HI, I'M DESTINY. I MAKE THEM FEEL COMFORTABLE, THAT THEY CAN TALK TO ME AND COME TO ME WHEN THEY NEED ME.

TED: IF A KID IS DIFFICULT TO GET THROUGH TO, HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT?

DESTINY MEDINA: I DON'T FORCE THEM TO DO ANYTHING. I WANT THEM TO BE THERE AND SEE HOW WE DO THINGS SO WE CAN SHOW THEM.

TED: HAVE YOU HAD KIDS COME BACK TO YOU, DEALT WITH THEM AND MENTORED THEM AND LOOK AT ME NOW.

DESTINY MEDINA: I HAVE. THEY ARE LIKE, I LOVE THIS PROGRAM. THANK YOU SO MUCH. THEY ARE VERY, VERY GRATEFUL.

TED: WE SHOULD MENTION YOU DISTRIBUTE BLESSING BAGS TO HOMELESS. WHAT ARE THOSE?

DESTINY MEDINA: THEY ARE FILLED WITH, LIKE TOILETRIES, WHATEVER YOU NEED. WE WENT AROUND WALKING AROUND ASU AND GAVE THEM OUT TO PEOPLE THAT NEEDED THEM.

TED: YOU HELP WITH COMMUNITY MURALS AS WELL. WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS, YOUR ROLE MODELS. WHEN YOU WERE A MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT, WHO DID YOU LOOK UP TO?

DESTINY MEDINA: MY NANA AND MY DAD. HOW THE SITUATIONS THEY WERE IN, THEY WERE ABLE TO GET THROUGH THEM. THEY TAUGHT ME, SHOWED ME HOW TO GET THROUGH THESE THINGS. I LEARNED LIVING THROUGH LIFE THAT I CAN DO THE THINGS THAT THEY CAN.

TED: DR. LESTER, WE HEAR LOVE IS THE ANSWER, FAMILY IS THE ANSWER. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THERE ARE ANSWERS.

NEAL LESTER: THERE ARE ANSWERS. I THINK THE LARGE UMBRELLA IS WE HAVE SHARED HUMANITY. WE HAVE 101 IN ACTION. WE ARE ENGAGED TO AN UNSTABLE COMMUNITY OF ADULTS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. WE DO IT EVERY SATURDAY HUMANITY 101 IN ACTION. WE ARE NOT JUST IN A CLASSROOM BUT OUT WITH BOOTS ON THE GROUND AND RECOGNIZING THE ABOUT TO BE EMPATHETIC AND REALIZE THAT ANY ONE OF US COULD BE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCE. FAMILY MEMBERS, IF YOU ARE CONNECTED WITH ANYONE, VULNERABILITIES HAPPEN.

TED: AS FAR AS MLK DAY, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HERE, TO BE HONORED?

EARL NEWTON: IT'S AMAZING THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT CARE ABOUT THE SMALL ORGANIZATIONS OUT THERE NOT LOOKING FOR RECOGNITION OR A PAT ON THE BACK. I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS QUITE A WHILE AT THE LOCAL MINISTRY THERE. TO HAVE SOMEONE RECOGNIZE THE WORK THAT WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO DO, YOU KNOW, IT GIVES YOU A BOOST TO GO FURTHER AND KEEP WORKING AND SAY, IT'S POSSIBLE.

TED: MLK AWARD. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

DESTINY MEDINA: IT WAS A SURPRISE WHEN I GOT AN AWARD. I WASN'T LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO GIVE ME A PAT ON THE BACK OR ANYTHING. WHAT THEY ARE DOING, IT MATTERS. THEY SHOULD KEEP DOING IT AND ONE DAY IT WILL AFFECT EVERYBODY.

TED: CONGRATULATIONS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.

Earl Newton: CEO, Hood 2 Hood Foundation
Destiny Medina: Senior, Marcos de Niza High School

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