In Memorium...

In my line of work, I have the incredible privilege to walk life with many young men who have impacted my life. Losing them has left an even bigger impact on the work and my soul. Gone too soon. Our hearts, families and communities will never be the same. This is my small way of honoring young men who blessed me by welcoming me into their lives. I will never ever forget them. May they Rest in Peace.

Jonathan G. Sanchez

January 7, 1989 - October 23, 2016

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD...

When you think of the scripture “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”- that would describe Jonathan Sanchez and his journey. 

Jonathan Sanchez was born into and lived a life of trauma, pain and hopelessness. As a child, he experienced everything from abuse (physical, sexual and verabl), foster care, fatherlessness, poverty, drug abuse and more. At the young age of 10, he started his gang affiliation and by 11 caught a gun case and began his involvement in the criminal justice system where he spent most of his childhood and young adult life. His mother was a drug addict and later passed away while Jonathan was in lock up. His father was a gang member, and was not there for Jonathan, the one thing Jonathan longed for the most. He was one of the founding members of his gang chapter and was highly respected, both for his leadership and the crazy things he did for his gang. In 2015, he was shot 6 times (lung collapsed and lost a lot of function/nerves in his arm).      

He had very little faith or respect for himself but he had one person who was his rock: his girlfriend, Jasmin. Though the relationship was volatile, it was his stability. She became pregnant shortly after they started dating with his second son, Elijah (currently one year old). That was a turning point for him. After his birth, he violated his parole and ended back in the prison system – but this time was different. He had a son that he wanted to give everything to, everything he never had. He was determined to be a great dad. “I don’t have the right to die anymore,” Jonathan would say. He just didn’t know where to begin…and then God softened the heart of his “sister-in-law” Krystle after many years of contention. Through a Facebook friend, she reached out to Amy Williams, a gang intervention specialist in Chicago, to see if she had any resources to help. Krystle got him into a halfway house and introduced him to Amy. Amy and Jonathan’s first meeting was taking him to get his gang tattoos removed. And so a different journey began for him.

Through mentorship and relationship, Jonathan decided he wanted to become a man of God, leave his gang, help his boys get out too and help other young people stay away from the life through speaking, writing and videos. He did a video on mass incarceration with Amy and had several speaking events lined up with Amy. His greatest joy was being an at home Dad to baby Elijah. You never saw one without the other. His dream was to make sure his son was never touched by the gang violence and to become someone who would change the world.

But Jonathan will never see that dream happen. We lost Jonathan, at the young age of 27, to gun violence in the early morning hours of October 23, 2016 as he was trying to help one of his boys out on the street. He caught a bullet from rival gang members whose target was someone else. The impact of his loss has been profound to his family, Amy, his boys, his former gang and the community...but his legacy will live on forever.
     
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For more videos of Jonathan, visit Amy's YouTube Channel .

.Our hearts will never be the same...Never forgotten

Johnny Vargas

Jose "Kikito" Rivera

Jovanny Diaz

RIP March 15, 2012
taken too soon by gun violence

RIP July 2, 2015
​taken too soon by gun violence

June 13, 1996 - June 13, 2011
​taken too soon by gun violence

Luis "Kique" Gonzalez

Moises Gonzalez

March 5, 1991 -  March 30, 2016
​taken too soon by gun violence

April 15, 1991 - Nov 23, 2016
​taken too soon by gun violence

How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard...