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FLOC youth mentorship program aims to give young students a voice

Johnny Garcia, the program manager for the FLOC Homies, says it gives an opportunity to get involved in identifying community problems and address them directly.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A youth mentorship program is providing internships while advocating for social justice in their community. The FLOC Homies Union program is giving them that voice by sharing opportunities with them. 

"I stand for, like, Black Lives Matter and all the movements going on. And for like, all the people I guess. Just bring everyone close together. And like, make us feel united," said Joseph Soria Jr., a sophomore at St. John's Jesuit. 

On Monday, Soria was one of several students who gathered to learn everything the Farm Labor Organizing Committee does in the community at a meeting held at St. John's Jesuit High School. 

Johnny Garcia, the program manager for the FLOC Homies Union says the conversation is an educational topic during Hispanic Heritage Month.

"We had a chance to talk about the FLOC Homies Union and opportunity for the youth to get involved to identify community problems and address those," said Johnny. "And brainstorm solutions and collectively organize themselves."

Alicianna Garcia, who helped structure the Homies Union, is an example of how the job readiness program can further students into a career path.

"I am a young girl from the inner city of Toledo. So, I can't always say that I had the best guidance. I didn't have the mentors and you know, the little things that matter, that you don't realize that you have right in front of you," said Alicianna.

Alicianna now owns her own business as a nail technician.

She and FLOC also invited the high schoolers to join their Black/Brown Unity Coalition Peace Rally happening on Saturday. It's pushing for a "Code of Conduct" for the Toledo Police Department to follow.

"A lot of youth, they feel resigned and they feel this hopelessness, this powerless that, 'I can't do anything. I'm just a kid,' but the truth is the opposite. That everyone here has a platform. Everyone has a voice," explained Johnny. 

It's a big impact to those who cross paths with the right people.

"To have that communication and you know, being on different levels and different ages of people, like it's an amazing feeling to have those bonds and those relationships," said Alicianna. 

"I just want to make a difference in the world no matter what I do in life. I want to impact the world in whatever way I can," added Soria Jr. 

To learn more about FLOC and their organization's programming you can visit their website here

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