What is the ultimate goal of Keys?
To empower disenfranchised youth so that they may contribute and improve themselves, their homes and their community.
Why is a program like this so important?
It confirms that through the power of unconditional love, common sense and community building that all youth, parents, siblings and community can contribute to the betterment of their local society.
How long have you been involved with Keys, and in what capacity?
Debbie and I have been involved since the start, about 20 years ago, wanting to come up with a program that would link educational, employment, artistic, social support, and leadership skills for youth particularly those who were not confident in school. We used our collective educational background, and slowly built the curriculum and modified over time until we have the program we have today.
Specifically, who or what inspired you to get involved with KEYS and the Café on A?
The KEYS stands for KEYS to Empower Youth in the System (Society). We wanted to create the positive affirmation for youth knowing how to solve the problems in the community, by providing solutions to regular issues many youth face. We felt that the reinforcement for knowing how to solve family and neighborhood vital issues was so much better than the temporary attention one could gain from acting out socially. This has definitely proven to be true.
How has KEYS made a positive impact on your life and your future?
See testimonies from youth for impact on youth. We both are blessed to be doing what we love, and have an opportunity to use the philosophy in action of two of our mentors: Father Boyle and Father Spitzer.
What impact do you hope art shows and exhibits will have?
They can encourage young artists to follow their dreams and their craft. The older artists can receive the much deserved recognition. The local leadership and officials can renew their commitment to support the arts in our Oxnard area.
Many of our art exhibits include young up and coming artists – and seasoned older experienced artists. The common thread is the hardship and pain that the artists have suffered, and is reflected in the work presented. The youthful artists are suffering more than the teenage angst: many have seen violence, divorce, substance abuse, justice intervention. The older artists have struggled always trying to find a place in society, while living as outcasts.
We firmly believe that the entire continuum of the arts is both magical and transformational to the individual as well as to the community.