The CHOICE team provides services for victims of gunshot wounds, stabbings and beatings for those aged 13-30. When a survivor of violence arrives at the Natividad Trauma Center, a CHOICE Intervention Specialist meets them at their bedside. They provide advocacy and the support needed for the patient and their family to heal from the trauma.
Our team addresses such issues as safety, mental health, and spiritual well-being, and provides connections to community resources. We do our best to mentor individuals toward positive influences through providing peer-based case management for 6-12 months after injury.
Violence affects individuals, families and the entire community. In most cases, after a violent injury, patients return to the same violent environment where they were injured, with no ‘prescription’ for how to stay safe. The overarching purpose of the CHOICE program is to reach survivors of violence while they are in the “teachable moment” following trauma, and guide them toward a safe and positive future. Our hope is to end the cycle of violence through intervening to prevent violent retaliation and re-injury.
Did you Know?
- Monterey County leads the state of California in youth homicide
- Homicide is the second leading cause of death across the nation for youth aged 10-24
- Research shows that up to 55% of patients violently injured will sustain another violent injury within five years. Of those patients that experience a subsequent violent injury, 20% will die as a result of their injury
Video – 2015 Hero Award – CHOICE Program
CHOICE Intervention Specialists
Rev. Lawrence A. Robles
Spiritual Care Advisor
- California State University-Fullerton, CA, BA: Religious Studies, Minor: Philosophy, 1992-1995
- American Baptist Seminary of the West-Berkeley, CA, M-Div.*: Biblical Studies, 1995-1998 (*The Marion E. Bratcher Scholarship Award for “Functional Theology”)
I grew up in an ordinary family in Southern California; the eldest of 11 surviving siblings. Like most Mexican Americans (Chicanos), I attended Roman Catholic Churches in my childhood. When I graduated from Valencia High School in Placentia, CA in 1974, I had no particular goal or vision for my life. So, after attending California State University-Fullerton for two years, I dropped out of study and joined the United States Air Force (1977), and was trained as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and served honorably through several assignments; after attaining the rank of sergeant, I was honorably discharged in 1981.
Somewhere along the line, I became addicted to drugs and alcohol; I was convicted of seven Driving Under the Influence (DUI) citations, and then tragedy struck: I was involved in a fatal collision with a bicyclist and served a four-year term at The California Institute for Men, Chino, California (1987). My life could have spiraled downward from this experience. But God came into my life through this experience, and I turned my life around, achieving a kind of ‘redemption through serving the people around me.’ After release from prison (1991), I began working with ministries of the First Baptist Church of Riverside, California; teaching Sunday school, working with the youth group, and participating in monthly missionary trips to Tijuana, Mexico, taking food and clothing to the poor.
Currently, I am Priest/rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church. Our parish is a growing church and is in the process of addressing the needs of our multi-cultural community. I am also a Spiritual Care Advisor at Natividad. Recently, Natividad was designated as a Trauma II Medical Center. One feature of this designation is that community outreach for the prevention of violence is provided as an Natividad service to the local community. The CHOICE program was developed in order to assist families who have experienced a recent traumatic event, specifically, firearm, stabbing, and physical violence. Currently, apart from chaplain duties, I serve on the CHOICE team and provide spiritual care support for victims of violence and the resulting trauma. In conclusion, I have experienced profound challenges in my life, and all of these have taught me and empowered me to assist others overcome their own personal struggles. Presently, in my ministry life I seek to offer mercy and grace to all others through the love of Jesus Christ.
- B.M., in Pastoral Care/Counseling, Foursquare Church/Montebello, CA 2003.
I am originally from San Jose, California. I am married to my wife Donna and between us we have 4 children, and 5 grandchildren. I have been working with Natividad’s CHOICE program as an Intervention Specialist since May 2015.
At a very early age, I began using drugs and was involved in gangs. I finally got to a place in my life where I was in and out of jail, stuck in that cycle, and very unhappy. I finally decided to get into a drug rehabilitation program where I went through recovery and learned self- control and work ethics.
I came to Salinas 27 years ago to help open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and Christian ministry. I began to connect with young people on the streets of Salinas that were involved in gangs, drugs and alcohol. I have worked with various non-profits since 1994, all working with youth and families. Additionally, I have directed several Men’s & Women’s Rehabilitation programs in Salinas, from 1988 to 1989, from 1992 to 1993, & from 2004 to 2005.