When David Maravilla gives a tour of his former neighborhood, he points to grim landmarks: “I had my first drug overdose right over there.” Motioning across the street, he adds: “I had my second one there.”

Maravilla remembers the day that a counselor from a local ministry approached him in a backyard full of gang members, drugs, and guns. He offered to help Maravilla find a job and gave him a card bearing the ministry’s name: Hope Now for Youth. Maravilla says he threw the card and scoffed: “Man, there ain’t no hope here.”

After serving more than three years in the California Youth Authority (a state jail for youth), Maravilla tired of gangs and crime. Christian counselors at Hope Now helped Maravilla find a job. On June 29, at a busy street corner near Fresno’s juvenile detention center, I watched Maravilla spot two teenage boys buying drugs from a local dealer on a weekday morning. He hopped out of the van—and extended a Hope Now for Youth card.

The boys said they knew about the ministry but didn’t want to start the program now. Maravilla, today a Hope Now staff member, offered a sober warning: “Right now is your chance.”

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