“Imagine waking up to home filled with alcoholism and violence–immersed in gang culture and street mentality; struggling to survive. Where do you go? What do you do? “ Tony Struck was faced with these very questions at an early age.
He speaks of his life as a child and young adult as very challenging to say the least. Tony shares “The things I learned on the street could not be learned in any classroom.” He is often told he is “the one who got away.” Participating in the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps introduced him to Carl Colonius whom he reveres for his mentorship and guidance through some very tough years of his life. For the past 13 years he has committed to a better life, using his past as motivation for a positive future.
Tony walked into NonviolenceWorks a few years ago interested in learning more about the Nonviolence Awareness Class (NAC). There he met Steve Moser a counselor for NonviolenceWorks who helped him realize opportunities of a disciplined and positive lifestyle. Tony was then recruited by NVW staff to help facilitate the NAC program. For the past 2 ½ years he has co-facilitated the program with Steve, sharing the stories and struggles of his checkered past and upbringing with the 15-20 men in each 26 weeklong class. He can recognize the challenges they face and talk about choices. Tony is also interested in helping to lead the GRIP (“Gang Resistance is Powerful”) program and continues his efforts of giving back.
Tony is now the Recreation Supervisor at the Youth and Family center where he has an opportunity to mentor his staff and youth participants. He uses his past as a tool to create positive change in those he mentors, as he is a firm believer that change is possible; you can choose a different life. Tony comments that he used to feel that his past determined him, however he now knows that he has a choice. He is giving back to Taos—reflecting the positive energy that was shared with him. Thirteen years ago he began to re-write his story and today he is living the life he sought.
People give back to Taos for many reasons—some, like Tony had their own experience of violence and despair, others such as members of the band Out of Nowhere have spent most of their life living in northern New Mexico and have seen peoples’ struggles up close. Rima Ralff, electric bass player in the band and an NVW clinician comments that overall the band is quite connected to the therapy world in Taos. One member is the son of a long-term therapist, two others have partners who work in the counseling field and another has adopted and fostered children who have experienced trauma in their lives. Because of their personal experiences and their values of community—Out of Nowhere is donating their talents for a NonviolenceWorks fundraising Blitz on Wednesday, February 17th. at the Taos Mesa Brewing.
Out of Nowhere includes Elaine Nelson, founder and saxophone and keyboard player; Barnaby Hazen, guitar and vocals; Ray Vollmer, drums; Ron Moore, congas; Rima Ralff, electric bass; and Beth Searcy, lead vocals. They are high energy—giving back to Taos the results of their years of musical experience. You will hear the synthesis of swing, jazz, soul, funk, R&B, Latin, and blues—moving you out on the dance floor!
The band members give comments about why they want to encourage the community to give to NonviolenceWorks. One member reflects Tony’s struggle when he comments that “anyone of any age needs to be shown a different positive way of doing things other than what they see in their environment—family or circle of friends, TV or video games and music. A lot of people don’t even know what a different way might look like.” Barnaby Hazen reflects “I have worked extensively with kids—in schools, foster care and other capacities. I feel that any and all resources for our youth—including their parents is of utmost importance to our town, our state and country and the world at large. Organizations like NonviolenceWorks need grassroots support more than ever.”
Elaine Nelson states that she supports NVW because of her “personal experience with fostering and adopting children in the foster care system who had experienced abuse and neglect because of family systems that really needed help, intervention and education. I have experienced firsthand how a program like NVW can be so valuable in turning a situation around and helping people become functional members of society—breaking the cycle of violence and dysfunction.”
The band is giving back to Taos starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday February 17th. The evening will start with a brief recognition to individuals who have given to Taos through their partnerships with NVW: Dr. Lillian Torrez, Ms. Valerie Trujillo, Chris Baker, Loan Livingston, Cid Backer, David Petree, Melissa Montoya, Will Romero, Robbie Trujillo, Alfred Cordova, Tommy Lyles, Fritz Hahn, Monica Griego, and Michael Martinez.
The evening will enable people to celebrate the success of NVW with clients such as Tony and to look to a future of making Taos vibrant. There is no cover, donations are greatly appreciated. Join us in celebration and giving back to the people of Taos! For information, call NVW at 575-758-4297 or Taos Mesa Brewing at 575-758-1900.