Dear Friend of Hope Now,
Thank you for your generous support for Hope Now. Without you, we would not be able to provide dignity and hope to the young men and families in our community. 2021 has been a year of changes and growth, and because of your partnership we have been able to navigate these transitions and emerge stronger than ever.
2021 has been an exciting year for Hope Now. We welcomed 2 new staff members and 2 new board members to our team, started Hope Now’s first social enterprise, and implemented a new data management system.
When Hope Now was founded in 1993, it was merely the dream of a group of faithful Fresnans who wanted to see men and families in our community transformed and empowered through workforce development. Today, we stand as a testament to God’s faithfulness: over the last 28 years, Hope Now has worked with over 400 local businesses and thousands of donors to provide over 2,200 men with life-transforming workforce training and job placements.
As we move into 2022, we are excited to continue breaking the ceiling by forming new workforce development partnerships and expanding our social enterprise program. We believe Hope Now is poised to impact more men and families than ever before in 2022.
We are excited to continue to witness God use Hope Now to transform lives in the new year. We invite you to continue to be a part of what God is doing through us. Together, we will make an impact that will echo throughout Fresno and beyond.
Executive Director | Hope Now
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
2021 has been a year of challenges, transitions, and new horizons. Hope Now continues to navigate the evolving pandemic landscape, which has significantly reduced operations at our downtown facility, and our ability to fundraise. And yet, thanks to the faithfulness of God and the support of the community, we are persevering and emerging as strong as ever.
In March, Vanna In, an outstanding 2002 Hope Now graduate, became our new Executive Director. Vanna is an inspiring example of whole-life transformation to the men in our program.
This past year, Hope Now has leaned heavily into workforce development. The pandemic caused a wave of job openings, creating opportunities for the young men we serve. Businesses are eager to hire; offering better wages and benefits. However, before filling these jobs, workers need to be identified and prepared. Hope Now’s program directly fills this gap.
2021 also saw Hope Now expanding our reach in our city by developing a new position: Southeast Fresno Outreach Coordinator. Sam Ban, a 2009 Hope Now graduate, was hired to lead the charge. Sam grew up in these neighborhoods and brings a deep familiarity. He’s already recruiting more men to Hope Now, building relationships within the community, and establishing referral systems with schools, employment agencies, and other community benefit organizations.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
In 2021, Hope Now began the process of launching our first-ever Social Enterprise initiative: a carpet cleaning business. We are looking forward to start serving customers in Spring 2022, and have our sights set on our next venture: a food cart.
These social enterprises will provide Hope Now with:
• Sustainable sources of revenue, and
• Valuable “in-house” job training.
After completing 4-8 weeks in our job training program, we have found that some men need more mentorship and work experience. These social enterprises will provide us opportunities to directly oversee and train for extended periods, while ensuring the men are earning much needed income.
Born in Thailand to Cambodian parents who fled their homeland during the bloody reign of the Khmer Rouge, Sam and his family immigrated to the United States when Sam was only a small boy. They made their way to Fresno, believing they had left the worst of their life experiences behind them.
Unfortunately, the “Golden State” did not immediately prove to be the land of Golden opportunity for Sam and his family. The Southeast Fresno neighborhood where the Ban family settled was ruled by gangs and street crime, and young Sam was quickly swept up into the street life. At the tender age of 11, Sam joined his first gang. In junior high, at time when most teenagers are worried about sports and grades, Sam was worried for his life, dodging bullets and knives.
By age 15, Sam had already been charged with his first crime – assault with a deadly weapon- and served time in the California Youth Authority Juvenile System. After being released at age 16, Sam’s criminal involvement only deepened when he began selling drugs to support himself and his young family. Sam remembers feeling empty- aching to better his family and his own life, but not knowing where to start.
“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I wanted more to fill this hole in my heart.”
In 2009, Sam heard about Hope Now’s Job Training and Placement program, and with nothing to lose, decided to give the program a try. Sam was drawn to our staff members’ hope, strength, and wisdom, and made the life-changing decision to commit his life to the Lord. Determined to turn his life around for himself and his family, Sam graduated Hope Now’s program and proceeded to excel in every Job position where Hope Now placed him, including the City of Fresno, Busetto Foods, and People’s Church. In 2011, he married Sai, the mother of his children.
Hope Now recognized Sam’s hard work and dedication in 2015 by awarding him “Youth of the Year.” In 2021, Hope Now was thrilled to help Sam take the next step in his journey by welcoming him to our team as the first-ever Southeast Fresno Outreach Coordinator. Now, Sam uses his past experiences running the streets of Fresno to reach other young men.
NickyRay first came to Hope Now seeking help during a rock-bottom point in his life. Raised on the streets of Fresno, NickyRay followed in the footsteps of his father and older brothers by joining a gang at a young age. As a boy, NickyRay idolized his older brothers, and was eager to join them in what he saw as the “glamorous” life of violence, street crime, and drug dealing. Determined to elevate his status in the gang, NickyRay quickly made a name for himself as a hardened thug.
He continued to pursue the street life for over a decade, despite narrowly avoiding death when he was shot five times in a fight with a rival gang. It wasn’t until he was sent to prison in 2009 that he began to reconsider the life path he had chosen. After being released from prison, NickyRay learned about Hope Now from one of his older brothers.
“Why not give it a try?” He thought.
“Right now is my best chance to be the best I can be, and I don’t want to lose that chance for anything!”
NickyRay completed the Job Training program and landed his first job through Hope Now. Hope Now’s staff began to instill in him the importance of taking responsibility for his life. Transformation was starting to show in NickyRay’s life, but with his third child on the way, the pressure to provide for his family pushed him into the desperate decision to start selling drugs again. NickyRay was trying to live in two different worlds: one with his family, and one running the streets. His decisions eventually caught up with him again, and he found himself back in prison.
When he was released from prison in 2018, NickyRay finally decided to surrender himself whole-heartedly to God. He returned to Hope Now and was welcomed with open arms. NickyRay began to apply everything he had learned through Hope Now, and began to see transformation in his finances, family, and job situation. Today, NickyRay has found a renewed purpose in being the best father, husband, son, and brother he can be.