Remembering Javier

I wanted to let NEED readers know that I was recently informed of some very sad news.

In NEED magazine issue 5 I wrote a story entitled “In the Crossfire” about an organization called Youth ALIVE! working with youth in Oakland, California. Yesterday, a member of the Youth ALIVE! staff contacted me and informed me that on August 31 of this year, Javier Carreto, one of the young men who was featured in the story, was shot and killed. I know next to nothing about the circumstances surrounding his murder, but I can tell you about meeting Javier.

Javier was the first young man I talked with in East Oakland. He was very eager to tell me everything that was on his mind. For every question I had, he had a thousand things to say. When he spoke, it seemed he felt surrounded by the constant violence that was part of the gangland mindset of youth around him. He was visibly frustrated with the insecurity he felt walking in the street and the tension that he felt at home. In spite of all that he dealt with, what Javier said to me showed he was an insightful young man who genuinely cared about those around him. He was eager to tell me about his new commitment to studying hard in school and the help that he received from Youth ALIVE!. Javier was proud of his GPA and the hope that he had through his education.

The loss of Javier had a profound impact on those around him. I know the staff at Youth ALIVE! are taking this tragedy very hard, especially Javier’s former mentor, Fabian Martinez. Javier spoke very highly of Fabian. In the interview, Javier said, “For me, he’s much more than a friend; I can tell you that. He’s way more than a friend. I have his trust; I have everything. … And Fabian did change a lot of my life. He did, and even though I am still okay, he’s still here. And he told me, ‘even though I not still working with you, I’m always here for you.’ And I like that.” I met Javier for a day, but Fabian was there nearly every day of what would be the last few years of his life, helping him choose a different path and become a better person.

I wanted to take this opportunity to point out the heroics of the Youth ALIVE! staff who pour their lives into some of America’s most at-risk youth daily. I am sure at times like these it would be easy for them to wonder what all their work is for. Sometimes it is hard to know just what to say. I do know that Javier’s life, along with countless others, stands as testament to the amazing work that the mentors at Youth ALIVE! do and I thank them for it.

I would encourage readers to write a quick thank you to Youth ALIVE! staff or perhaps to a mentor who gave a piece of their life to help you in yours.

Youth ALIVE!

3300 Elm Street
Oakland, CA 94609
510.594.2588 ext 300

For audio of the interview with Javier Carreto click here.

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