The Tale of Two Boxers The sound of fists hitting leather reverberates through the room as thirteen year old Angel Chavez prepares with his Coach, Dennis Moniz, and his eleven year old brother Jacob. Both boys practice their sport two hours a day, seven days a week—the same boys that lost their father to gang violence only three short years ago. Their mother, Lisa, having suffered the great loss of their father knows how important it is to find a healthy outlet for her children who could so easily get involved in gangs, drugs, participate in violence on the streets, and fail in school like so many other lost children in the community. Lisa said it best when asked why she involves her children in the Gloves Not Drugs community program offered through the Carlos Vieira Foundation in partnership with the Merced County Sheriffs Activities League. “Teenage boys need a healthy place to learn discipline, strength, and without their father to guide them, it’s never been more important to get them the stability the program offers. It keeps them off the streets and staying out of trouble.” The Gloves Not Drugs program currently has three 51FIFTY Boxing Club facilities open to children after school in Livingston, Delhi, and Atwater. The programs are free to all children within the ages of 8 to 18 and coached by local volunteers. The Foundation and the Sheriffs Activities League is currently in the process of opening a facility in the city of Planada and plans for further expansion beyond that is in the works. Sheriff’s Deputy Buck Ledford commented, “Part of Sheriff Warnke’s mission is to get out in front of community issues before they become a problem. Children join gangs because they lack self-confidence, have problems at home, school, as well as issues with authority figures. We want to help as many of those at risk kids as possible. This program gives children another option and a safe place where they can build self-confidence, be themselves, have positive role models, receive discipline, and learn something fun and appropriate for their age.” The program has provided an afterschool home for hundreds of children who have come through it since its inception. Some are from broken homes, foster kids with no stability, or have guardians that just don’t care. Kids that join the program learn to appreciate their individual gifts, train hard, work towards reaching personal goals, learn how to protect themselves, get exercise, have to keep a C average or better in school, work as part of a team, and so much more. Not only does this program help children in the community, it gives them opportunities to take their skill to the next level. Angel and Jacob Chavez the two boys who have lost their father to gang violence are at the top of their rank in boxing. They’ve beat all the competition in their city, their region, the State of California and are now going to compete at the Silver Gloves Nationals in Kansas City. A local company, 51FIFTY Energy Drink, who is largely responsible for donation of program funding, is sponsoring the single mother and her two children as they take their first airplane flight towards meeting their dreams. Thirteen year old Angel who loves to draw wants to be a professional boxer at the age of 17. After he meets that dream he plans on owning and running his own boxing gym teaching other children how to box. He wants to give other kids the same opportunity the Gloves Not Drugs program is giving him. Eleven year old Jacob wants to beat out his brother and go pro-boxer by age 15 and says after that he’s going to own his own restaurant. The boys were asked what they love about boxing. “Keeps me safe and out of trouble. Plus, it’s cool,” said Angel. “It’s really fun and we learn a lot,” said Jacob. Both the Chavez boys and the hundreds of others that have come through the program are proof positive that when the community embraces children in local programs such as the Gloves Not Drugs program we all benefit from it. “Seeing the at-risk kids come through our program and work towards something they can be proud of, that gives them a purpose…that’s what this program is all about. The Sheriff’s Activities League, the Foundation, our top program sponsor 51FIFY Energy Drink, are all thankful to the community for the ongoing support we receive and believe together, we are making a huge difference in these children’s futures,” said Carlos Vieira, President of the Carlos Vieira Foundation. To learn more about the Gloves Not Drugs program, visit the Carlos Vieira Foundation website at www.carlosvieirafoundation.org.
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