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Oakland man bringing families together to break cycle of violence in the city

Oakland man's nonprofit helping support youth, families to break cycle of violence
Oakland man's nonprofit helping support youth, families to break cycle of violence 03:37

An Oakland man is bringing families together to break the cycle of violence in a neighborhood known as the top police beat for violent crime.

Andrew Park helps give away food to nearly 200 families on this day. But he also nourishes the neighborhood's spirit through his "trybe" of hope and belonging.

"Just as a small nuclear family is complex, you multiply that by a hundred, that's the work of Trybe," Park said.

A child of immigrant parents, Park himself struggled growing up in East Oakland. He was headed in the wrong direction.

"Folks know it starts with 4th, 5th grade: you start fighting a bunch. You get to middle school, it's like, you start roaming the hallway. As I started doing that, that's when a few folks grabbed a hold of me," Park said.

Because of those critical mentorships, he now walks on a brighter path.

He's a pastor, Cal Berkeley PE department manager, and also leads Oakland Trybe, the nonprofit he founded in 2007 to tackle the pain and poverty among East Oakland's young people.

"Some of them have already experienced harder, harsher things, have already gone to juvenile hall, have already gotten shot unfortunately," he said. "I see them carrying around that trauma and violence that they don't know how to process."

So, Park and his nonprofit serve the youth and their families in a multitude of ways.

From its outdoor center at San Antonio Park, Oakland Trybe partners with food banks to give away food, offers free services like early childhood playgroups, afternoon clubs at local schools, mentorships, paid internships, college visits, summer camps, and community gatherings to build character, confidence and connection.

Trybe's 100-plus volunteers and 30 staff members serve 50,000 people a year. April Nunez is one of those people, and she grateful that Trybe cares for her whole family.  

"It's a big difference. They're here in the community. The kids can probably ask for help," Nunez said, as she was picking up free groceries from Trybe.

In fact, Trybe "ambassadors" are out in the community every day to clean up trash and graffiti, serve neighbors and build relationships that lead to mentorships.

Trybe also reaches out to those affected by neighborhood violence. The "violence interrupters" are funded by government grants, show up at shootings and other crime scenes to support families.

As the Trybe expands, chief operating officer Lisa Lambaren-Cruz said it's growing a new generation of changemakers.

"Andrew has a unique way of leading. His way of leading is allowing others to lead," she said.

So, what keeps Park going?

"Really, it's my faith that keeps me going. I feel called to this work," he said.

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