Two unincorporated Tulare County communities will host Step Up anti-gang events this week.

The Second Annual Step Up Goshen & Unite Summit will be held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 13 at Goshen Elementary School, 6505 Ave. 308 in Visalia. The second event, the Traver Step Up Family Fun & Resource Fair, is scheduled from noon to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 at Traver Elementary School, 36736 Canal Drive in Traver.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Worthley, who represents Goshen and Traver, said the goal of both events is to inspire Tulare County families to live violence- and drug-free lifestyles, pursue educational achievement and connect to their community in a positive manner.

"Parents are the key to reaching out to youth," Chairman Worthley said. "If our Step Up effort helps strengthen parents’ relationships with their children, we've succeeded. One way we can help parents is by providing them with techniques that empower their families to live violence-free and drug-free."

Step Up Goshen & Unite – May 13

The Second Annual Step Up Goshen & Unite event seeks to empower parents and youth with techniques provided by motivational speakers, who will host separate workshops with messages targeting youth and adults.

Organizers have arranged for a resource fair staffed by more than 30 community-based organizations, local government agencies and faith-based groups who will provide information to parents and youth. Participants will have opportunities to sign up and volunteer with various organizations in their community.

Visalia Unified School District After School Program Manager Frank Escobar will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. Escobar will give a presentation called, “It takes a village to raise a community,” which will focus on the importance of uniting together to overcome the four reasons why people and communities self-destruct. The message will include a series of examples, group interaction, and an uplifting tone for a future full of hope and progress.

The Step Up Goshen & Unite event is a collaborative effort of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman, Visalia Police Department, Visalia Unified School District, Christ Lutheran Church of Visalia and the Church of God in Goshen.

Traver Step Up Family Fun & Resource Fair – May 15

The Traver Step Up Family Fun & Resource Fair is designed to encourage and support families to work together as a community to combat gangs and other negative influences.

Tulare County Chief Probation Officer Janet Honadle said families are invited to attend the free event, which will include a resource fair featuring more than 20 organizations, free food and drinks, water slides and bounce houses, and a raffle for children and adults.

“Our hope is that by encouraging a sense of community and by providing families with information on available resources, Traver will be empowered to address problems such as gangs and graffiti,” said Chief Honadle, whose department is coordinating the Step Up event.

Chairman Worthley said Traver’s first Step Up event will be important.

“Bringing in the Step Up program is a move in the right direction to addressing the gang issue in the Traver community,” Chairman Worthley said. “Families are encouraged to attend the event and take advantage of the resources that will be made available to them.”

Chief Honadle said the Probation Department will continue to partner with organizations and hold Step Up events to promote positive relationships with Tulare County communities to eliminate gang activity.

In Traver, Chief Honadle said, the Probation Department will continue to utilize its Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) officers to teach gang awareness to both children and adults.