A special Po'okela Award was given in 2006 to Adult Friends for Youth, in recognition of workplace excellence and dedicated service to the youth
Adult Friends for Youth (AFY) is a non-profit corporation that promotes educational achievement and offers a prescription of hope for significantly reducing poverty and destructive behaviors among youth gang members. In its 20 year history, it has disbanded and rehabilitated 26 youth gangs.
Despite its seemingly stressful mission, its 11 staff members have been with the organization for an average of ten years. More impressive is the fact that the company has not had a single Workers Comp Claim since its founding 20 years ago despite the seemingly high-risk work they do.
For example, they are often called to intervene in gang fights. In one instance, two gangs or about 100 youth, were involved in a standoff at a local high school. When AFY arrived, the standoff also involved police. Police allowed AFY "free access"; AFY drove its van into the middle of the standoff, picked up the youth who were not on their turf, and drove them back to their community. AFY then mediated an understanding between the two gangs.
Syd Rosen, founder and Chief Executive Officer attributes this to their philosophy that they are advocates for the youth and the youth have grown to trust them completely. Two key programs help their mission.
* (C-Base) Clinical/Competency Based Alternative Education offers school drop-outs and those with special academic needs the chance to get a high school diploma
* Student Transition Convention helps over 10,000 fifth and sixth-graders annually through the transition of leaving elementary school for the upper grades.
In addition to the commitment of the staff to their clients, AFY considers the responsibilities of its staff to their own families as the highest priority. Employees have flexible work schedules where they may take time off for family obligations. One staff member, a former gang leader, is now working on his Master's Degree in social work. AFY assisted him in obtaining scholarships, pays him part of his salary because he continues to work while taking a full-time course load and doing a practicum.