"I'm like a dream broker for boys exiting juvenile detention," says Sergio Castaneda '04. As a Krista colleague, he nurtured young leaders at Harambee Ministries in Pasadena, California. Now a husband and father and based in Pasco, Washington, he serves as an Educational Advocate in Benton and Franklin Counties. "I assist young men in transitioning out of jail, refer them to resources, and mentor them," he explains. "As long as their dreams and aspirations are healthy and will benefit themselves and their family, I am all for supporting them, removing whatever barrier is in front of them, and helping them move to the next level."
Mentoring young men from challenging backgrounds, with no fathers or father figures, some at risk for deportation "is about being there at the right time and asking the right questions," he says. "I don't want to overpower them with my ideas and what I think they should be doing. I want to help them realize they are whole, even though they've gone through hell, and it is up to them to make good choices to get themselves to where they need to be."
The son of immigrant farm workers who lived in Pasco and many other places, Sergio recently completed his BA in social work from Heritage University. He often wrestles with how to draw from his own experiences to empower the Latino community. "First-generation immigrants suffer the most, but as generations come along we are supposed to get better and better. At the same time, how do we keep our culture, as opposed to being assimilated...?" One challenge is Sergio's own immigration case. "Although I have a work permit and a Social Security number I have no legal status and have been fighting deportation for the last 7 years," he says. "My path is service."
Sergio summed it up, warmly, "I am trying to live my life out in a way that honors what God has done in my life."