The Opening the World (OTW) program, fiscally sponsored by the non-profit organization, Bay Area Community Resources (BACR), was founded in 2012 by Marriage and Family Therapist Jeannine Curley (MFT #53773).
For over twenty years, Jeannine's dream was to take young adults struggling with adversity on volunteer-educational trips. Growing up in rural Canada, Jeannine faced with her own life challenges and travel became her savior. Exposure to other cultures and human suffering altered her perspective and life-choices forever. As a result, Jeannine had an unrelenting desire to help young people from similar circumstances find community, feel supported and experience the world. This population and their families are also the focus of her private practice in San Rafael, California.
To make OTW possible, she organizes fundraisers, receives donations for local community members, and is supported by a group of professionals that work with youth at risk in Marin County, and an amazing Advisory Council.
OTW embraces the notion that world travel and community service for young people is at the core of a paradigm shift in how we view the relationships among the members of our community and the world at large. More than just preparing young people for a place in the changing global economy, OTW grooms young activists, community organizers and change agents who, through compassion and service, will build bridges across the divide of our global community.
Our mission is to empower and expose at-risk young adults or transitional age youth (16-25) to a world beyond their own through volunteer, leadership, educational and cultural experiences within their communities and abroad.
OTW is an annual, voluntary program (not court-mandated) that provides a safe and supportive environment for participants to share their experiences and be motivated and mentored by peers who have similar backgrounds.
Many alumni choose to continue participating by taking on leadership roles within the program.
The OTW program year runs from October through June/July and includes:
• Monthly community service work
• Bonding and cultural activities
• Planning meetings for community activities, fundraising events, and travel
• Fundraising events
• Exposure to possible vocational interests through fundraising, volunteer activities and guest speakers
• Life, leadership and vocational skills development through practice and by participating in new activities
• Personal development retreats
• Educational classes
• A community service trip (optional)
One of OTW’s goals is to bridge racial, cultural and socio-economic divides by exposing populations that may not have otherwise interacted, due to isolation and/or marginalization, to each other. OTW youth are exposed to:
• Communities that are less fortunate locally, nationally, and internationally
• Younger at-risk youth in the county
• Other helping organizations
• Professionals from varying ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds who help educate, mentor and support participants
Although OTW participants and volunteers may come from different backgrounds and/or cultures, they find common ground and a second family with each other.
All of these experiences and OTW activities work to increase participants’ self-confidence, self-sufficiency and feelings of self-worth which, in turn, help reduce mental health issues, recidivism, and substance abuse rates.
OTW alumni become citizens of the world who seek to help others and live healthier and productive lives.