By Kimberly Foley. CREATED Aug 21, 2014 - UPDATED: Aug 21, 2014
OMAHA, Neb. - The South Omaha gang specialist, Alberto Gonzales, has been on the job just four months.
"This work that we do is never ending," he said. "It's a lifetime."
Now, he is joined by a new counterpart in North Omaha, Diante Jones.
Together, they're using their experiences to hopefully change lives.
"That's the hardest thing about attacking gangs is that it involves the most powerful thing on Earth: relationships," said Jones.
Relationships, both positive and negative, shape the world around us.
"The reality is we're going to lose some kids, and we're going to win some kids," said Gonzales. "That is the nature of the beast. We've been to plenty of funerals, but we also have success stories that step forward."
One of those success stories is Jones, who is a former gang member.
"As long as they're breathing, there is no such thing as too late," he said.
Gonzales also led a troubled life long ago. Together, Jones and Gonzales hope to change the path some kids are walking down.
They go into schools, community organizations and homes to get to the core of what is causing a teen to react and rebel.
"You have to do life with these kids," said Jones. "You can't come in for five minutes and see them two weeks from now. They might want to hear from you tomorrow. They want you to spend time with them. Everything is a relationship. That is how you break down barriers."
One of the biggest challenges the kids face: no adult role model.
"We have a lot of parents who are ill," said Gonzales. "We're talking mental health issues, addiction issues. When you have a child who really wants to study or get involved, then they go home to all that mess, it makes it hard for a kid to stay focused."
A missing connection is what Jones and Gonzales are trying to give to kids who need it most.
"You want to see us before you see the guys with the badges and the belt," said Jones. "We're here to help. We're not here to expose you. We are not here to make things worse for you. If you see us, we're only here to help. That is our heart. We have no other motive."
Gonzales has been working with teens and gang prevention for over 30 years.
He said when he first started, he was dealing with kids in the 7th and 8th grades. Today, kids are as young as the 3rd and 4th grades.