The city owns you after dusk
You sleep as one of its own
The elephant in the room has
No room to roam no trust or tusks
Just skin and bones

The scent of discontent of
Continents adrift collide in the neap
Tide of her tears inside

What are we but walking trees? Seeking
Roots to run deep
Sesame Street has a dark side
Count 1-2-3 we weep and weep


What are we but walking trees? Standing
On every street corner
While they throw shades and blades our arms stretch out
In preservation
Our roots run deep with hope

Every playground is surrounded
Laughter rides on the backs of butterflies
3 O Clock the trees stand in watch
Backpacks carry our future home

Written by John David McKellar John David McKellar has lived in Pomona for 14 years. His three daughters (and wife) are/were all PUSD students. Over the years his heart has been broken for our youth in the city. He served as a youth pastor for over 10 years and now serves as a Mentor Supervisor for Just Us 4 Youth. He has hope for our city as youth continue to …


Roaring winds, soft breeze, rock cool beneath me, I’m surrounded by trees taller than buildings. Slipping into a trance and letting my cares, fears, and worries drift away with the wind. Captivated by the sunlight as it hits these pages. Reflecting back to that split second where I felt an instant revelation in a foreign land. It was a place where I was welcomed with open arms and smiles. To be completely honest these foreigners made me feel human again. This is the place in my life where some would define as “experiencing a supernatural calling.” Before this trip I had no sense of purpose or what type of job I wanted to pursue. On this particular day this calling was so profound, although I still questioned myself ...Is this real? Is this a fantasy? My hopes and biggest aspirations seemed light years away. Is this my purpose? Am I called to lead wandering souls to the right path? Why me? How am I going to impact others, and give sound advice to the youth if I was in the same boat? I …


"How to develop emerging inner city leaders"I love walking onto campuses and into neighborhoods meeting young leaders. They are everywhere! Diamonds in the rough. In urban spaces, because of the overwhelming obstacles that youth face, high functioning leaders are bred daily! They are the most resilient, highly creative and innovative people in our cities. When you find one, invest in them. Here are some tips to do so effectively.
Find a common ground Quickly seek to identify their values. Find out what's important to them. Find out what excites them. Ask questions to find a talking point that will carry you out of an awkward beginning into an organic new-found bond. 

Speak in their language Capture their attention. Be creative. Be willing to be a student of their culture and their language. You don't have to be cool to do so, you simply must have a desire to learn from them, learn about them, and then meet them on their level and elevate them to new heights.
Help them lea…

Laying down your life

I've spent the last 17 years of life serving youth in the city.  This morning I wake reminded of all the precious souls that I've had the blessing of encountering. Sometimes I think back and ask myself, "was it all worth it?" All the time spent, the sacrifices made, the blood sweat and tears? The answer is a resounding YES!

Last night I pulled into the local 7-11 and saw Isila, a 19 year old mother of a 2 year old baby boy. Two years ago she was addicted to alcohol and in and out of juvenile prison. She's now employed with UPS and driving around in her own car with baby boy in arm, smiling, with no recollection of a drunk mother.

A year ago I received a message from a young man named Albert. He says, and I quote, "Eric, I don't know if you remember me or not, but it's been about 8 years since you've worked with me. I am now 24 and a father of two pursuing my dreams with my music and art. When I was younger I was so messed up, lost trying to find…


This morning I am filled with a mixture of emotions. As an urban youth worker I think you’ll experience mornings like these often. I write to vent and create community around moments like these. 
To be very transparent, I am attempting to remain balanced, not allowing my perspective to be skewed or jaded. I am fighting the urge to scream out “INJUSTICE” in homes, schools, courts, communities, essentially everywhere I go. 
I am feeling helpless when it comes to raising awareness. Awareness around the simple things in teens’ lives. For example, today youth in the city wake in poverty, not having more than a pair of clothes to mix and match to ensure they don’t “wear the same thing.”  Students wake this morning recovering from bodily injury, after enduring a physical beating, being jumped into their gang. While we sleep cozy in our beds at night, there are thousands of homeless youth awake, having to move place to place to ensure their own safety in the dark hours of night. While we are pl…



Growing up in Pomona, was always mixture of emotions, from good and bad, and happy to sad; as cliché as it sounds, there were a lot of smiles a lot of cries. I was always the kid who knew I had the potential to do something great or change my life with the right guidance; but wouldn’t be shown until later in life. After getting involved with JU4Y, becoming a mentor and learning the duties that come with being one, I realized that mentorship was everything I needed growing up, and that know I was put in a position to be the person I needed when I was younger.

Being a mentor is more than a job for me, it’s an opportunity filled with responsibilities. Mentoring gives a mentor the opportunity to shape young person’s life, provide them with the tools necessary to better themselves and the lives of others; mentees also learn how to keep healthy relationships, healthy boundaries and receive positive opportunities that wouldn’t receive from anybody else. Being a mentor…

From Suburbia to Africa to Pomona

My Journey from Suburbia to Africa to the Inner City By Paul Hudak I grew up completely different than most of the youth I serve.  I grew up with a great family, a loving and providing father and mother, and my older brother and younger sister. My life with both parents being present was amazing.  I was blessed to receive everything I needed including all the love and support necessary for me to mature into the man I am today.  
Life was normal all the way through high school, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I developed a passion to work with those who were less fortunate than I.  It was my senior year in college and a spirit of adventure and humanitarianism inspired me to go to Africa. That year I got connected with a Catholic Priest from Kenya.  He saw that I had this huge heart to go and serve young people in Africa so we exchanged emails and Facebook information and the rest was history.  A couple months passed and I set a date and a place do my work, in the villages of Ke…