Mothers-Men Against Gangs


“Never Fret For an Only Son, as the Idea of Failure Will Never Occur to Him”

George Bernard Shaw

Although these words are attributed to George Bernard Shaw, they could very well have been spoken by either parent of Martin Alberto Garza….  Martin was the pride and joy of two extremely loving, intelligent and Christian minded parents and one sister…  He was acculturated into small town life near the Mexican border… where hard work, a strong faith and love of community was far richer than dollars and cents. He had personal aspirations beyond Imperial Valley but also wanted to pay it forward. Martin had a Plan A and a Plan B for the future… And then one dark night in January 2013, those plans came to a halt by forces beyond his control.  As an attendee at a party, he suddenly and viciously became the victim of a stabbing and homicide… forever silenced in the prime of life by a gang member.

Football was part of the fabric of his life… He spent many hours on the field practicing….and in death a vigil was held in the very same place.  His coach instilled the importance of hard work, achieving goals, attaining maturity and rising above petty complaints. Coach uttered the phrase, “Put Your Purse Down, Son” often and it became a meaningful slogan for an entire community. In fact, it was emblazoned on Martin’s jacket….as well as part of the Mothers – Men Against Gangs Coalition logo.

This personal story is set apart, not by the act of gang violence, or homicide. This story stands alone for the incredible faith, proactivity versus reactivity and wonderful accomplishments put forth in just five short months. Yes… there are moments of grief and tears and yet… no revenge, no bitterness by the Garza family. They are God’s children and they know what to do.  Rather, they got busy on behalf of Marin’s memory, embraced by an entire community!

Listen to the Podcast

  • Introduction to our guest; Yulil Alonso-Garza Founder of MAG and mother of Martin Alberto Garza
  • Prevalence of gang culture;
  • An outline of the case…in the wrong place at the wrong time;
  • Martin Alberto Garza described in the context of his town and the county;
  • A mother’s choice justice versus revenge…
  • Organizing an event to memorialize Martin;
  • Setting the tone for a community;
  • An arrest;
  • A giving community contrasted in a “water tower town” versus a metropolitan area;
  • The highest unemployment in the nation…and the most generous…
  • “Ignoring our surroundings for the sake of our children”- One mother’s perspective;
  • “You must believe in yourselves;”
  • Vision Boards with Jack Canfield:
  • A story about  near drop outs thinking differently… the vision of the cap and gown;
  • Martin’s routine and the “ticket to take him somewhere”… Sports and business administration;
  • Preparation, preparation, preparation…
  • Plan B… Teaching Math;
  • Talking about Mothers Against Gangs… What’s the long range plan?
  • A discussion of deterrence as the focus of MAG;
  • A misperception – Changing the name to include men;
  • The beginnings of activities memorializing Martin and ramping up…
  • The process of non-profit status…taking off quickly due to the need;
  • Ladyjustice listing accomplishments thus far..;
  • The importance of proactivity versus reactivity and unifying without negativity;
  • Yulil on the philosophy on Jack Canfield;
  • Contact Information and acceptance of donations:

Mothers Against Gangs Coalition

P.O. Box 1639, Brawley, California   92227;

  • Website… the beginnings;
  • Yulil’s dream….. a center in the future… Working two jobs or in the fields…;
  • Yulil’s lack of aware ness of victim services and needing to know their rights;
  • In the midst of being proactive, Yulil never realized that she and her family also are victims (survivors);
  • Grounded in Faith… and a Sunday routine;
  • Embracing Catholicism and preparing for grief;
  • Grief and two Mother’s Days;
  • Differing perspectives… staying or leaving the Imperial Valley;
  • A son’s dream for his Mom….building a school; Working outside of the box;
  • Rosie Lopez a true friend and Upward Bound professional  to Imperial Valley;
  • A parting message from Yulil; Contact: 760-791-9125 for collaboration on similar projects.


Questions, Questions, Questions…

  • What is the significance of faith in this story?
  • Where was the vigil held and why?
  • What was the progress of the investigation?
  • What is it like to be a part of the community in Imperial Valley California?
  • Recognizing the influence of gangs…What has Yulil accomplished individually as a teacher with gang members?
  • What are vision boards and how does Yulil use them to assist students to take a different path than gang life?
  • What was Martin’s legacy concerning sports?
  • What was Martin’s “Plan A “educational plan?
  • Yulil’s decision asking, “What are we going to do now”?
  • What is the meaning of the acronym  MAG?
  • How did MAG evolve?
  • What is the true composition of gangs?
  • Why was it important for Yulil to form a coalition versus a single organization?
  • How is MAG Coalition promoted?
  • What types of victim services were provided?
  • How are other family members coping?
  • Is more prosperity coming to Imperial Valley or does everyone want to leave?
  • A life lesson…Can a mother or town shield their children from violence?

Mothers-Men Against Gangs

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