Las Vegas Advocate and Program Participant Connect Over Shared Experiences

    Former YAP program participant Isic and his Advocate Michael Gonzalez.

    Contributor: YAP Clark County, Nev. Intern Matalasisiutaimane Howard with editing from

    Las Vegas – At age 17, Isic found himself on probation and was referred by the juvenile court system to Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. in Clark County, Nevada where he was paired with Advocate Michael Gonzalez.

    Isic yearned to be there for his baby, get off probation and to find gainful employment. That’s where YAP came in. YAP is a national nonprofit in 34 states and Washington, D.C., that partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, and public safety systems to provide community-based services as an alternative to youth incarceration, residential placements, and neighborhood violence.

    Now 18, Isic said he plans to move from Las Vegas to Nashville, Tenn. to be with his girlfriend and son. He’s obtained a warehouse job and plans on getting an apartment. Hearing stories of other young people who kept getting into trouble is what eventually helped Isic choose a better path for himself.

    Former YAP program participant Isic.

    “I reevaluated what I had been doing because hearing from other youths who were doing the same things that I did, gave me a different perspective,” Isic said. “Being able to relate to my Advocate who went through some of the same situations allowed me the opportunity to believe that there were better options out there for me. I wanted to give up, but my Advocate Michael believed in me and showed me that if he can become better, then I can too.”

    YAP hires neighborhood-based Advocates who are trained to empower program participants to see their strengths while connecting them and their families to wraparound services that include educational, economic, and emotional tools. Gonzalez connected with Isic since the two share similar backgrounds and bonded immediately.

    “When I first met Isic, he seemed unmotivated and acted like he didn’t care,” Gonzalez said. “He felt that he needed help but didn’t know how to ask for it. Seeing Isic now, I can tell that he’s matured and is on the way to achieving his goals. It was a long journey with a lot of twists and turns, but I am glad to be a part of his journey and to see him make it to graduation from YAP.”

    Isic is described as ambitious and a fast learner who is strong-minded and loves football.

    “YAP allowed Isic the opportunity to believe in himself and that there was something better for him,” Gonzalez said. “Initially, Isic wanted to give up, but I believed in him. I knew that if he knew there was something more than the things he used to do, that he could have a better future. Although Isic may be done with YAP, we’re not done with him.”

    Isic just wants to be a good role model and father for his son.

    “If it wasn’t for YAP, I don’t think I would have been able to get off probation,” Isic added.

    Learn more about YAP by visiting Follow the nonprofit on Twitter @YAPInc.