Fresno was in a free fall of hopelessness. In the year 1992, gangs ruled the streets and were a major cause of 87 homicides. Night after night on the evening news and day after day in the newspaper, gang violence was rampant. Over 14,000 vehicles were stolen that year, earning Fresno national notoriety as the car-theft capital of the U.S., second only to Newark, New Jersey. In a national survey of most desirable places to live, Fresno ranked last… 227 out of 227.
The cycle of anger and fear had to be broken. Rev. Roger Minassian took up the mantle to be the first of many who would help break that cycle. He left his church where he was the pastor and followed Jesus on the streets of the city.
Hope Now For Youth was founded by the Rev. Roger Minassian, in Fresno, California on February 1, 1993 to hire Christian collegians to work out of churches as Vocational Placement Counselors for at-risk and gang young men, ages 16 to 24.
Today, working from our downtown headquarters at 2305 Stanislaus Street in Fresno, CA. Hope Now’s diverse staff recruit gang youth (ages 16 to 24) in neighborhoods, parks, bus stops and malls of the city, and receive referrals from Hope Now transformed youth and law enforcement officers.
Five Hope Now youth, lifted from the streets, are now Hope Now staff members. Through building the first caring male relationship a youth has had, and by placing that youth in a job, “throwaway kids” become taxpayers instead of tax burdens, men with a future who work, attend school, and raise their families.
On March 21, 1994, Valley Children’s Hospital hired four Hope Now youth. Impressed with their performance, this leading Fresno employer hired 25 more, of which 21 were successful. Since then, other employers have seen the value in hiring Hope Now young men; employers such as Piccadilly Inn Hotels, Fresno Plumbing and Heating, Valley Truck Parts, Vineyard Pools, Quickie Designs, Paper Pulp & Film, Pepsi Cola Company, Electronic Recyclers International, Keiser Sports, St. Agnes Medical Center, Community Medical Centers, Quiring Corporation, Radisson Hotel, California State University, Fresno, the City of Fresno, and hundreds others.
From 2004 to 2019, Hope Now was been led by Pastor Roger Feenstra, the second CEO and Executive Director. Hope Now For Youth continued the same mission and vision of reaching young men trapped in gangs, sharing the love of Jesus Christ with them, and placing them in a job.
Since 2019, Hope Now is being led by Bryce Naylor, the third Executive Director.
In Fresno, since 1993, Hope Now has placed thousands of young men in jobs. And today, with over 23,000 gang members in Fresno County, we continue to strive for excellence in assisting and leading young men. Would you consider joining us in our mission?