‘I wanted to break the cycle’: VIP program participants want to see more success
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque leaders have recently been pushing the Violence Intervention Program as an option to break the local cycle of violence, most recently as this week as they announced they’re charging four teens for a deadly drive-by shooting.
But they also shared their struggles in getting a majority of people at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence to join the program.
Melvin Valdo and Brandi Sedillo, two people who have seen how it can work, wish more people would make the choice to better their lives.
“Instead of thinking you’re alone, you’re not alone,” said Valdo. “You’re not alone. There’s people out here helping.”
Valdo has been to prison, has gotten shot, and admits he went down a hole he’s not proud of. About two years ago, he made the choice for himself, and his son, to change.
“I pushed myself because I didn’t want my see my son go down the same way,” he said “I wanted him to be happy and finally have a father. We’re all human beings. We all hurt. We all suffer. But there’s other people like good people out there that will help you.”
Brandi Sedillo is a single mom of two sons. She says one of them got caught up in the criminal justice system.
“I have another son, my 14-year-old, I didn’t want him going down the same path,” Sedillo said. “So I reached out to them for resources.”
The VIP program helped Sedillo get more stable housing and take up boxing with her sons.
Valdo used VIP as a foundation to join at least two other programs to help with job skills and getting a house. He’s also since shared his story as inspiration to other participants.
“These kids are coming out of homes, broken homes, you know, domestic violent homes, drug homes, you know what I mean? It starts from there. But as you get older, you can better yourself,” he said.
You can find more information on the VIP program here.