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TODAY news for Thursday, August 11, 2005

School of Medicine news

Operation Jessica honors contributions in troubled youth outreach

Marti Baum, Joseph Rodriguez, and Lauri Burns holding their awards
(From left) Marti Baum, MD, assistant professor, School of Medicine, Loma Linda University; Joseph Rodriguez, RN, director of Gang Reduction Intervention Team (GRIT); and Lauri Burns, an inspirational speaker for Operation Jessica, display their humanitarian awards. The awards were presented by the Operation Jessica program.
At a special luncheon held Sunday, May 22, at the Oak Valley Country Club, the Operation Jessica program recognized three individuals for their outstanding contributions to the mission of the program.

Marti Baum, MD, assistant professor, School of Medicine, received the humanitarian award for her outstanding leadership as co-director of Operation Jessica as well as her commitment and compassion in intervening with at-risk youth. She was honored for the “legacy of love” that she offers not only within Operation Jessica, but also as she directs the OK Kids (Outreach to “K”ommunity Kids) residency training program.

Two other community leaders were also honored at this luncheon. Lauri Burns, inspirational speaker for Operation Jessica, and Joseph Rodriguez, RN, director of GRIT (Gang Reduction Intervention Team) also received awards for their dedicated contributions to troubled teens.

The luncheon was a part of the second annual Operation Jessica Golf Tournament fundraising event.

The golf tournament was a combined effort by Operation Jessica, Loma Linda University, and Diversified Medical Management.

“The success of these tournaments is due to contributions from many individuals and corporations,” says Bernadine Irwin, PhD, RN, founder of Operation Jessica.

“With the help of God, and for the love of Jessica, to date we have seen success in the lives of 180 young people who have made positive decisions to be God’s kids.”

Operation Jessica is a transformational, spiritual experience within the setting of nature for at-risk teens who are homeless or coming from group homes. The program is named in memory of Jessica Salazar, a gifted yet troubled young teen who had hoped to work with wounded teens. Unfortunately, her life was taken during gang violence at the age of 14. Loma Linda University students provide one-on-one mentoring during a four-day retreat in the heart of the San Jacinto Mountains. The youth are challenged through activities such as low-ropes trust building and high-ropes courses, self-expression through art, dramas, inspirational speakers, mountain exploration, hiking, and mountain biking. Therapeutic groups are aimed at initiating healing from past abuse and neglect, accomplishing spiritual transformation in the present, and empowering to take responsibility for their choices in the future.

The previous golf tournament enabled 50 young people to attend the Operation Jessica Mentoring Program. For more information on Operation Jessica, please contact Bernadine Irwin at (909) 558-1000, ext. 45435 or <birwin@llu.edu>.

TODAY news for Thursday, August 11, 2005