Purple Reign Education Center Inc., founded by Sharon Cruse, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to address individuals’ behavior and work with them to develop different approaches to living and sustaining a better quality of life. Purple Reign works in partnership with schools, faith-based and community-based organizations, who connect with at-risk youth and young adults.

Although Purple Reign strives to help all people, the organization focuses on youth ages 14-24, in underserved, at-risk communities, and the goal is to help them achieve true self-sufficiency through continuous learning and application of skills and literacy to enhance, empower and guide them. The personnel provide a full range of services for individuals seeking employment, re-employment and educational services.

The organization also offers services in literacy, life skills, self esteem, personal hygiene, work readiness/career preparation, career management/retention, conflict resolution, sustainability, money management, etc.

So many teenagers and young adults are failing to lead a decent, quality life because of socio-economic challenges, and because they drop-out of school.

The Purple Reign program trains 45 individuals in a 12 month period. Classes/workshops are held on a 20-week basis, five hours per day, 20 hours per week. Individuals also receive continued on-the-job coaching for the first year.

“I worked in management, and many times when I would look to fill positions, people would come in unprepared. Their resume didn’t reflect the person coming in. They would come in dressed incorrectly, and so often it was people of color, and that upset me. One day a girl came in wearing pajama bottoms, flip flops, and a tank top. Finally, I tried to see what I could do, because that had been wearing on my heart for years. It was time to take a leap of faith,” said Cruse.

“My first client . . . called me in to do job preparation helping train new employees, and one woman couldn’t read. Sure I could teach her how to file or answer phones but she needed to learn to read. I brought her together with my young niece, and we started from the basics; from the alphabet. I love working with people, I just have a passion for it. It was my vision,” said Cruse.

“My biggest accomplishment would be working with the women’s shelters and being given the opportunity to speak to the kids at different schools on career day.

“When I have students come back to me, and they are excited saying, ‘Ms. Cruse, I went to an interview and they asked me the exact same questions you asked, and I got the job.’ That makes me cry every week. I asked God to just let me help one person every week to keep me encouraged.

I cry every Friday,” said the visionary, who sheds tears each time a former student returns to recount a success.

The services provided are invaluable, but Cruse asks that all of the students donate $5. “I ask them to donate because, people don’t appreciate free. So many of our youth today suffer from what I call FSE, a false sense of entitlement. They value things more when they have to work to get them,” she said.

In the near future, Cruse hopes to expand her services to the Lancaster and Palmdale area. “I did life skills training with foster children out that way, and they can really use that kind of help. I know. I was a foster child as well.”

Cruse and Purple Reign Education Center Inc. are competing in the Pepsi Refresh Project, which helps to fund ideas that make a positive impact on the community. Purple Reign is fighting its way to the top and is currently ranking 234 out of 1094, but the organization needs help to grab one of the top two spots to receive a $250,000 grant.

You can truly feel the passion in Cruse’s voice, as she talks about helping people. “I’m a doer; I don’t like to just talk, I like the results to speak for themselves.”

You can be a doer too, by going to www.refresheverything.com and voting for Purple Reign Education Center Inc. every day until July 31.