Police estimate that Fresno County, which includes many rural towns, has about 24,000 gang members. Marcelino Garcia is one of them. The 20-year-old has been coming to Hope Now for about a month.
"Not too many people trying to give you the opportunities when you got gun charges, drug trafficking, involuntary manslaughter on your resume," he says.
Garcia joined a gang when he was 12 and is used to a life of violence. Guns are easy to come by, he says. AK-47s, Glock 40s...
"Once you pull a trigger once man, it's just addicting man," he explains. "Any little mean mug is like, 'what's up,? I'm packing. What do you got? Swing on me, it's cool.'"
He says he's still fighting with himself over which direction to take. One part of him really wants to do good; the other wants to ride around with a gun and a pocketful of drug money.
"They named me what I am, 'Havoc,'" he says. "Havoc is what I reek. Chaos on people. I came [to Hope Now] though. Two and a half weeks later, bam, my first job."
A minimum wage job as a painter. Vocational placement counselor Sergio Perez says the ones who change have to want it more than the power and prestige that can come from being in a gang. These young men are often from broken homes, he says. They're lost and lonely, in search of a family. They get their praise and esteem from other gang members for committing violent acts.
But some do change. Hope Now has helped more than 1,700 young men find jobs, and most stay on track. Salvador Diaz was one of them. Perez says Diaz came here about 10 years ago. He had served time in the California Youth Authority for armed robbery.
"His nickname was 'Bullet,'" Perez says. "I mean, he was violent."
Vocational placement counselor Sergio Perez teaches young men how to manage their money at Hope Now for Youth.
Diaz was one of seven children, raised by a single mother. He would skip school because other students made fun of him for always wearing the same clothes. He was just a kid when he started running with a Fresno gang called the Bulldogs.
"He would not smile. He was just hard. Harder than hard," he recalls. "He was just one of those guys that, you know, you'd look at, and he'd just dog you back."
But Diaz grew tired of the streets, tired of looking over his shoulder. He also had three young nephews he wanted to help. He and Perez, who had been homeless as a teenager, became friends. They could identify with each other's past.
"Being told we're nothing, we're thugs, we're just problems," Perez explains. "[We were] able to see, you know what, there's a purpose for us and that's, you know, we can use all these negative things for good."
At Hope Now for Youth, Perez and others helped Diaz find entry-level jobs including one as a garbage loader. Last year, Diaz found a job on his own at a Fresno meat processing plant called Apply Valley Farms. It was the last place he would work. On November 6, a disturbed employee shot and killed Diaz and another coworker before killing himself.
Yesenia Vejar stands in her living room and looks lovingly at a photo of her younger brother. He was a real caretaker, she says. At his funeral one of his coworkers told Vejar that Diaz wasn't feeling well the day he was shot. But he wouldn't go home.
"He said no that he needed to make money to take care of his nephews," Vejar explains.
"He was like my dad," Diaz's 13-year-old newphew Juan Alvarez says. "I looked up to him like my dad."
Alvarez lived with Diaz for the past six years. They played football and basketball. His uncle bought him a bike, but it was later stolen. He says his uncle told him not to follow in his footsteps.
"Don't join any gangs like he did," Alvarez says. "He stopped for us because he wanted to take good care of us.
Diaz's story still resonates with the young men who come through the doors of Hope Now. Marcelino Garcia says he respected Diaz.
"That homeboy wasn't no bullshitter," Garcias says. "You want to change, you change. You don't, you gonna leave and go right back to what you're doing."
Then Garcia becomes philosophical. Maybe Diaz fulfilled his purpose in life just by becoming a better person, he says. Maybe his story will help others like him change -- or at least listen.