Leadership program to change lives of East Texas children

Leadership program to change lives of East Texas children

(KYTX) - A program transforming struggling children all over the country is about to start in Texas for the first time ever.

The Ambassadors of Compassion leadership program meant to help struggling and low income children, will kick off right here in East Texas on January 30.

"Since I was a little girl I have been surrounded by unpleasant people. The upsetting part is that most of them were my own family members. As the years went by I started to get into many fights to earn respect," says Yisel Ochoa.


Ochoa is from California, but her story resonates with so many East Texas children. A violent lifestyle was all she knew. She was kicked out of 16 schools for fighting.

"I would have my mother and father crying worried about me if I would be dead the next day. They did not want me to be just like the rest of my family members," Ochoa says. 

That's when she joined Ambassadors of Compassion, the program she says saved her life. The 12 week leadership program provides books, videos, and coaching sessions that inspire kids to create goals they never thought possible.

"I spent almost 20 years in law enforcement here in Smith County so I know we have gang issues and gang activities here in Tyler," says Todd Thoene. 

He says that's why he became one of more than 100 volunteer coaches for the program. He will help mentor East Texas kids throughout their journey to personal success.

He's thankful Ambassadors of Compassion leaders like Cindy Rudd are bringing the program to East Texas, to send our children a message.

"We're there for you, we care about you, we care about our community, because this is our future," Rudd says. "These kids are our future. We want to see them stay in school, we want to see them succeed, We want to see them graduate, and go onto higher education."

The success stories are endless.

"In 2011 I graduated from Rising Stars Business Academy. I'm attending Arkansas University, and I'm on the honor roll, holding a 4.0 GPA," Ochoa says, smiling at an enormous crowd.
She was awarded the Lombardi Award for Resiliency on nationwide television in December of 2013.

Rudd tears up thinking about the program and how it will help local children realize that no matter what their circumstance, there is a way out. 

To learn more about Ambassadors of Compassion, click here.

If you want to donate or volunteer for the upcoming East Texas program that begins Jan. 30, contact Cindy Rudd:


(903) 617-6367


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