By Cecilia Maria Gonzalez

The Ripple Effect 22 team had been planning a block party for 3 months. This block party would be the launch of our program, where people could learn more about who we are and sign up. We wanted to make a good first impression, so we worked hard on setting things up right. There were so many different things to take care of beforehand. With all the permits, orders, arrangements, and planning, it seemed like the process would never end. The last couple weeks before the event were the craziest. Things we needed began to fall through, and we were starting to get frustrated. But as that Saturday drew closer, everything that had fallen through fell into place again. Even though certain people weren’t able to make it and we didn’t have t-shirts like we had originally planned, we were still grateful for what we did have to work with.


When Saturday came, it was hard to believe that the day of the block party was here. All of our planning and work was going to pay off. The Ripple Effect 22 team woke up bright and early. We all met up to get everything together and set up for the big day. Our first stop was Glad Tidings Church, where we needed to pick up some important items they kindly let us borrow. Then we headed over to the block we were about to transform: Golden Gate Avenue between Masonic and Central.


We got started running around, getting our walkie-talkies set up, preparing tables for the other organizations that would be there, setting up banners, barricades, porta-potties, and everything else we needed. There were so many people who came out early to help us set up. We felt so encouraged by the people who came to help and support us on such an important day for us. More of the people from the different organizations started showing up, and we made sure they all had their tables in place. Finally, as we got the barricades up and more people started coming in, we saw our event take off.


Stefan Gartrell, our president and founder, spoke motivating and encouraging words. Here is one of the hardest hitting lines from his speech: “It’s opportunity, positioning, direction. And if we’re able to give these kids these types of opportunities, this type of direction, the skies the limit for them. And I’m a living testimony for that.” The team was excited about people getting to hear Stefan speak so passionately and boldly about his dream for Ripple Effect 22.


There were a lot of performances that had people dancing and smiling. We had an amazing DJ, Russell Gatewood, who you should definitely hire for your next event. One of our performers, Trini, even flew out all the way from the east coast to support us, so we’d like to give a big shout out to her! Red Rooster Tacos truck was at the party. That food was so good. Everyone was talking about it. I definitely recommend trying them out some time. There were a lot of kids playing on the bouncy house, having so much fun! People were going to the different booths, learning about the other organizations.


Overall, the block party was a success. We had about 150 people there and they all enjoyed themselves. We also had quite a few people sign up to be mentors, volunteers and students. There were also many things we learned from our first event, which will help us be more prepared and make the next events even more amazing.


We would like to take some time to thank all the churches, non-profits and other organizations that showed us support at the event: Glad Tidings Church, First AME Zion Church, YMCA Buchanan, SF Day School, Art of the Covenant, SF WAAT, FCA, Midnight Basketball, SF Teen Challenge, and SF Christian Counseling Center. Shout out to AOTC for leaving early from a retreat in Tahoe and coming to the block party! Big shout out to Teen Challenge for all their hard work with the setup and cleanup!


God has been so faithful through this whole process, and now He is helping us to set everything in place to get this mentorship program started. We cannot express enough how excited we are about having kids come in to be mentored, nurtured, and loved. Ripple Effect 22 is a safe place for kids to discover their God-given gifts and realize the true value of their lives. These kids need to know that there is so much more to life than what they may see in their homes, on TV, or out on the street. We at Ripple Effect 22 believe that in order to change this world, we need to start with this next generation. Our ultimate purpose is to welcome in kids of all backgrounds so that they can be mentored and Empowered Into Purpose.