Vallejo Pioneers

Hi! My name is Lauren and I founded Vallejo Pioneers in January 2017.

After learning that there were dozens of children living at Vallejo's only homeless shelter, I knew that I wanted to meet these children and spend time with them. This quickly evolved into a day program that runs every Saturday at the Vallejo Christian Help/Reynaissance Centers. We also recently launched after school tutoring one day a week - yay!

The mission of Vallejo Pioneers is simple: to provide love, support, mentorship, and guidance to at risk youth.

We strive to provide a comfortable, safe, and nurturing environment that encourages children to use their imagination, engage in healthy social play, and grow in self-discipline. We do our best to offer our children individualized support based on their unique needs. It is important that we also build close and lasting relationships with their parents and assist their families by connecting them with local resources (medical care, education, housing, etc.).

Each Saturday, before I even exit my vehicle, I am attacked with hugs. The kids get really, really excited to see us pull up. First, we eat breakfast. Cereal, bagels, and the occasional pancakes and bacon! We engage in conversation about their week. The kids share what they’ve learned at school, their highs and lows, and they love to tell the new jokes they’ve learned! After breakfast, we get messy and create art! The children light up at the masterpieces they’ve created. After arts/crafts we usually have some time to kill before lunch. We play red light green light, zombie tag, and sometimes the kids just want to lay low and talk with their head gently resting on your shoulder. Hearing their stories is my favorite pastime each Saturday. Around noon, lunch is served. Donated hot meals are always appreciated. After lunch, we rest. We talk some more. We brush our teeth. We play board games. We disccus what activities we’d like to do the following week. We share special quiet moments in the midst of chaotic fun. Then we start cleaning up and say our bittersweet goodbyes – until next week!

So far, Vallejo Pioneers has served over 50 kids who have come and gone from the shelter. The goal is always to move our families toward self-sufficiency and it is always SUPER exciting when we get to help families move into their own homes. Sadly, this isn’t always the case when families leave. Many times our children are forced back on to the streets or living in their family vehicle. We are passionate about following our families wherever they go and maintaining open lines of communication and support. We love our children and their families and want to do everything in our power to serve them, encourage them, and connect them with resources to meet their needs.

As of right now, Vallejo Pioneers is in desperate need of breakfast/lunch sponsors, an overhead canopy to provide shade in the scorching heat, craft/activity supplies, and most importantly VOLUNTEERS. Future goals include a community garden, indoor meeting space, a van to provide mass transportation for offsite fun, and so, SO much more. The vision of Vallejo Pioneers stretches far beyond just Saturdays and I am confident that with community support we can expand our services to include week day/evening support for the kids.

While I started this venture with a burning fire to impact my community, it is the kids who have actually impacted me. Their resiliency is inspiring and I believe that each and every one of our children deserves the chance to chase their dreams as fast and as far as they can run.

We are grateful for partners like Jeff & Sara with Saturdays at the Travel Inn, Maria with Vallejo Together, Natalie with Another Chapter, Isabel Reyes with the Eric Reyes Foundation, the Solis family, and the rest of the wonderful people who have rallied behind us thus far.

My hope is that we, as a community, will step forward to foster and cultivate a desire within these children to learn, grow, and pioneer a new path for themselves, their children, their children’s children, and beyond. It all starts here and now.

Any assistance generated by the community is an investment and will pay great dividends in the future. All monetary donations will be used to enrich the lives of our children. If you are interested in getting involved, I want to hear from you!

Vallejo Pioneers


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  • Joanna Lyons 
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Lauren Cracraft 
Vallejo, CA
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