A recap of the 2020 Breakfast
Thank you to the nearly 820 people who gathered in Long Beach on Thursday, February 6th, to celebrate the power of diversity and the vision of a loving and compassionate community. Our breakfast program was co-chaired by Rich Archbold and Rev. Nancy Frausto, seen below pictured with our keynote speakers, a few of our event sponsors, CCEJ Board President Rosecarrie Brooks, and Interim Co-Executive Director Jessy Needham,
Guests were greeted by lively music from Auld Wives Tale and the Cerritos Music Circle. The Voices of Garden Praise Choir also gave a wonderful performance of the original song, “Smile.”
Representatives from the Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish and Roman Catholic faiths gave a multifaith Invocation, sharing their reflections on community-based, restorative alternatives to the current cycles of unjust incarceration.
CCEJ took the opportunity to honor Gene Lentzner at the Breakfast, just a few days after his passing. Gene was the founder of the breakfast program and one of CCEJ’s most dedicated and longstanding supporters. Former CCEJ Executive Directors Margaux Kohut, Wende Julien, and Kimmy Maniqus joined Interim Co-Executive Directors Jessy Needham and Daniel Solis to pay a touching tribute to Gene.
This year’s speakers, Taina Vargas-Edmond and Richie Reseda, shared their personal stories about the impact of incarceration on their lives and our communities. Taina and Richie founded the organization Initiate Justice while Richie was serving a sentence in California state prison. “We understand that the only way that we’re going to end the harms of mass incarceration and truly create systems that are based in community and love and support are by investing in the leadership of the people that are most directly harmed by it,” Taina remarked. Richie shared, “I did not transform because of prison. I transformed in spite of it. What changes people, what changed me, was love, investment, and community support.”
As a closing, CCEJ volunteer and Breakfast Planning Committee member Eydie Pasicel led everyone in a call-and-response reading of the poem “In Lak’ech” or “You are My Other Me” to remind us of our interconnectedness.
The day before the breakfast, Taina and Richi met with more than 50 youth, parents, and community members for a dialogue about the impact of incarceration on their lives. CCEJ’s Building Bridges for Youth program coordinated the event and hosts year-round activities to help young people from different cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds build positive relationships and resolve conflicts non-violently. Click here to learn more about CCEJ’s work with youth.