Exposures: I Care: Oakland youth finds purpose in fellowship with others

The scent of pine trees energizes the air at the Salvation Army’s Del Oro Music Camp in Nevada City. Joseph Brown calls out chords for a group of campers in a guitar lesson while assisting instructor Capt. David Kauffman. “Let’s give it a Cleveland ending,” says Kauffman and they reach skyward for a crescendo finish. Over the next few weeks, Brown will clean bathrooms and serve meals while working at the teen summer camp but says his real passion lies in fellowship with others. Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Oakland, the 16-year-old struggled with failing grades and drinking. His family became homeless and went into a shelter program at the Salvation Army. It was there where he found God and a renewed purpose in life, he says. “Before, I tried so hard to have a thug mentality but it just didn’t work for me,” he said. “Now I have the opportunity to connect with others who come from where I come from.”

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PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLOG: Additional photographs and story. blogs.sacbee.com/exposures