by Tom Sims
Brandi Gant is a woman of vision. It is a vision born out of personal pain and triumph. She found a brighter future and now she dreams of providing brighter futures for the youth of Clovis.
That is the basis for Brighter Futures. Brandi’s passion is to rescue kids before they end up in the juvenile justice system. “All I’ve ever wanted to do in my life was help kids.”
Brandi was one of those at-risk children. She was “in the system,” in and out of trouble, and in need of guidance. She accumulated so many community service hours that she had her own pair of gloves waiting for her whenever she showed up for work!
Her mother was a positive influence, but she had to leave for work each morning and return late. An adult mentor named Greg would make sure she got to school when she was trying her best to avoid it. These and other key people in her life helped her recognize and move toward her potential.
Now Brandi works for Clovis Unified School District in the Special Education Department and her passion is a youth center with mentoring, homework help, recreation, guidance, and hope. “Kids miss so many important keys in life,” said Brandi. Some of these keys include information on finances, the importance of education and understanding their own potential.
“Lots of kids are in home study programs,” she continued. “They have nowhere to go. There is nothing in Clovis.”
Clovis is ground zero for Brandi’s vision where kids are in the exact shoes she was in twenty years ago. “There are a large number of young adults in our Clovis community that need a place to go to during the day as well as weekends. These young adults need mentoring, counseling, job training, extra help and support. There are also young adults that have gotten in trouble and are now involved in the juvenile probation system, doing community service and/or been in juvenile hall. These young adults need an alternative to stay on the right track.”
Brighter Futures’ current goal is to raise enough money for a youth center for these young adults. “We have students in junior high that have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd and are having a hard time finding their way. Likewise we have young adults in high school that are falling behind, getting involved with the wrong crowd, starting to experiment with or are heavily involved in drugs. In our community we also have students that do not attend school on a daily basis but complete their work from home.”
Brandi’s vision is for a seven day a week program where young people can gather, bring their families for special events, do their homework, meet each other, be influenced for good, and receive wise counsel. Her strategy involves counseling interns, volunteers, and computer labs.
The center’s goals are:
* Brighter Futures will devote personalized attention to each child that walks through our doors.
*Brighter Futures strongly believes that individualized programs are the best way to help a child become a leader and a positive role model.
*It is our goal to develop an everlasting connection with each young person and assist them in becoming positive members of our community, providing them with the support and information they need to make better life choices.
*Brighter Futures will create an effective learning program for mentors/volunteer’s that will increase their ability to be successful communicators.
At the moment, Brighter Futures needs a building, but other needs are just as real. Brandi needs to expand her team of advisors, volunteers, specialists, and supporters in the community to help her refine and implement the organization’s goals. This support includes financial support.
Brandi’s father, who helped many people in their recovery from addictions, recently died. In one of his last conversations with her, he asked about her big dream. She reiterated what she wanted to do for the youth of Clovis. He encouraged her to press on and that is what she is doing.
Brighter Futures has a bright future. It is in its infancy and the community has an opportunity to come alongside and be part of something great. To contact Brandi at Brighter Futures to see what you can do to help make a difference in a kids life their mailing address and phone number are:
Brighter Futures Non-Profit
P.O. Box 477