Featured on KTVU, April 20, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif. — For the past few years a handful of outreach workers have hit the streets to try to transform their East Oakland community, empowering it by offering jobs and training and hope.

The five members of the East Oakland Outreach team say they believe they have been able to halt some street killings.

But the program is funded by a parcel tax and is now threatened by budget cuts.

Darnell Smith is one of the many success stories touted by the East Oakland Outreach Team.

“I could be on the street doing negativity but the center helped me,” said Smith.

Another success is 15 year old Curtis Taylor. He said the team helped change his life for the better. “I was tripping. I liked it because that’s what I was around,” said Taylor of his past.

The Oakland City Council may have to cut the team’s funds because of the city’s budget shortfall. Councilman Larry Reid noted, “This program is worth funding.”

On Monday night, at a meeting at the St. Louis Bertrand Catholic School, the team updated East Oakland community leaders about its progress.

Outreach worker Rosie Ortiz said, “This is their last stop they need someone to guide them. Even if we talk to 50 kids and one turns around, I touched one.”

Decisions on program cuts aren’t expected until June 30th.

At the meeting, community members talked about ways volunteers might be able to help keep the program going, even if there are no city funds.