Avenal to me is considered a local community since it's only an hour and 20 minutes away. But my biggest attachment to the city of Avenal is that I paroled from Avenal state prison on December 13th 2008. Avenal is largely a farm community but a lot of people also work at the prison. And the reason I came out to Avenal High School to speak is actually a very cool and heartwarming story.
Many years ago when I was in the beginning of my speaking career, about 2011, I gave a presentation in a city called Hanford. It was to a small youth conference being held there and one of the staff that attended heard me speak and she told herself that if she ever got an opportunity to bring me to her communities that she would make it happen. Well 7 years later, she made it happen and what a beautiful soul she.
My first speech was to be given to all of the high school students, who are largely a Hispanic community. As usual the students were extremely respectful and very attentive during my speech, we spent a lot of time afterwards taking pictures and talking which is always an indication of how relatable I was to the kids.
My second speech was to a group of community leaders where my main focus was talking about my non-profit organization the Freewheel project and why I believe we were unique and making many strides towards changing lives. I talked about my theories of empowerment versus educating in the dangers of harmful substances we want to keep youth away from. I believe that we should be empowering students through gifts and activities and teaching them life skills and those moments where the kids are enjoying themselves and threw them they would make the right choices and stay away from those harmful substances we want them to avoid. I believe this was well-received and I was grateful for an opportunity to be able to give them a speech in which I don't get to give often but wish I did.
Thank you so much to everyone involved and bringing me to Avenal to speak to the students and Community leaders there was an honor and my pleasure