This post was written by Alec Knauss, Corporate Communications intern.
On June 4, I had the good fortune to participate in a joint celebration of the anniversaries of the East Oakland Youth Development Center, better known as EOYDC, and Clorox—Clorox just turned 100 and EOYDC, which Clorox helped found, turned 35—a longtime Oakland partnership. The event was held at the Oakland Museum of California, a testament to the two organizations’ shared Oakland roots. I was impressed by the rich history of the EOYDC: Since its founding in 1978, EOYDC has provided educational and social support to thousands of low-income Oakland residents ages 6–24. However, I was most dazzled with the young volunteers who helped with the event.
With large smiles, the EOYDC volunteers exuded positive energy and were clearly excited to help with the celebration. I had the privilege of speaking with some of them, and I was struck by their pride in being part of the organization. I spoke with a young man who was raised in Oakland and had been in the EOYDC program since he was in elementary school. By 14, he was a youth leader. His two younger brothers are also in the program. The tutoring in math and science he received from EOYDC inspired him to pursue a career in computer science, which is in high demand in Silicon Valley. He now attends San Jose State University and is hoping to work for Google after he graduates.
When I asked him about his favorite aspect of the program, he talked about the supportive network of mentors and friends who were the driving force behind his admittance to San Jose State and who nurtured his confidence to excel professionally. EOYDC instilled a strong work ethic in this young man and gave him the confidence to pursue his career goal. Then, as we looked through some of the artistic creations developed by EOYDC’s kids—everything from a book of poems about growing up in East Oakland (Y U Gotta Call It Ghetto) to anti-smoking campaigns (Cigarettes: Public Enemy #1)—he provided more history on the organization. I want to get my hands on some of this material! I was truly impressed!
Then I met Regina Jackson, executive director of EOYDC since 1994. Now it all made sense. I had high expectations after reading an extensive list of accolades about her, but I was still wowed. Her charisma, positive energy, and intelligence make her an exceptional role model and leader for EOYDC participants. Her solid connections in the Bay Area have generated ongoing funding, as well as media coverage that has brought attention to this important program for Oakland’s youth. Regina spoke proudly of the opportunities EOYDC participants have had, including dancing for Nelson Mandela and singing for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Wow! As long as EOYDC has leaders of this caliber, the organization will continue to make a positive impact on young people in Oakland.
I was proud to be a part of this event and learn more about an organization that works hard to make a difference in people’s lives and in its community. Happy anniversary, EOYDC!
Alec Knauss is a student at The University of Texas in Austin, majoring in Corporate Communications; he is interning for the Clorox Corporate Communications department this summer. He enjoys outdoor activities and extreme sports such as mountain biking and outdoor rock climbing.