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Content warning: domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide.
In this episode, I’m talking to Danny Sanchez, Founder and Executive Director of The City Peace Project in San Jose, about turning pain into purpose and finding peace after prison. Danny is a beautiful soul who had to tuck away his gentle, giving spirit and adopt the “tough guy” persona he thought he needed to fit in. In doing so, he found himself navigating a plethora of challenging experiences, including police brutality, suicide attempts, and surviving multiple stabbings. Danny was in and out of the prison system starting at a very young age until an experience where he truly believed he was going to die, which allowed him to start choosing a different path for himself and his life. Danny is the author of Post Traumatic Quest: My Quest to Transcend Trauma, Turn My Pain Into Purpose, and Find Peace, and he shared so much wisdom throughout this conversation.
What to listen for:
- Growing up in a house filled with guns and violence
- Developing a coping mechanism of fighting back at a young age
- Feeling alone and acting out in different ways
- Elementary school was one of the worst experiences of his life
“I wasn’t really a fighter, but it was just the neighborhood. If somebody bumped you or said something to you, you just fight. I didn’t give it a second thought.”
- What it’s like growing up in Silicon Valley
- How being cheered on during a sixth-grade fight shifted his perspective
- Wanting to be loved and not having deep relationships
- His dreams for the future and how they died
- Masking his sensitive side with drugs and alcohol
“I burned so many bridges. I remember many Christmases alone in a rented camper with two 40oz bottles of alcohol, drinking myself to sleep because nobody wanted me around. But I created that for myself.”
- Getting convicted of a felony or 13 years old
- Flirting with death but never having a wake-up call
- Feeling suicidal while wanting people to understand his pain
“I was stabbed in the kidney, and I was in the hospital for two weeks. They had to do exploratory surgery on me to see where the damage was. And I remember that didn’t even change me. Like, less than a week, I was drinking. I just didn’t care. “
- Being in and out of the incarceration system for 13 years
- Violating parole and scrambling not to get caught
- Feeling like he was going to die and how that moment woke him up
“I remember, I just fell on my knees. And I said, God if you’re real, help me. All these years, I have flirted with death. But when I felt like I was gonna die, I wanted to live. I remember that moment; I felt so alive. I never felt so alive in my entire life. From there, like, my life just changed.”
- Finding his faith in God and feeling sober and alive for the first time
- Removing himself from bad influences and temptations
- Volunteering and doing things to help other people
- Learning and taking better care of himself
- Perfectionism, burnout, and relapsing
- Learning to have fun through skateboarding
“If you come to San Jose and go to a skatepark, and you say, Pastor Danny, the kids will know who I am cuz I go out there and hang out with them and have fun in our community here.”
- Working with students outside their normal circumstances
- Uncovering the desire to work with the youth community
- Nothing was planned, but it all fell into place
- The birth of the work he does now
About Danny Sanchez:
Danny Sanchez is a highly recognized social entrepreneur and leader in youth violence prevention and redirection. He has been featured in notable media outlets such as Forbes Magazine and The Huffington Post.
Danny is a sought-after speaker in his field. His insights around youth violence and trauma have been presented at billion-dollar companies such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google.
His service to the community received numerous awards including “Champion of Change” by President Barak Obama and “Movers of Mountains” by The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Association of Santa Clara Valley. His social justice efforts led him to work with government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology of Jalisco Mexico.
Pastor Danny is a San Jose, California native with deep roots in the local community. He created the volunteer crisis response chaplaincy program in Silicon Valley and is the Founder of The City Peace Project non-profit organization and the owner of Post Traumatic Quest LLC, all where he works as a passionate advocate for students and schools through his coaching, mentoring, and conflict resolution.
He and his wife, Abigail, are blessed with a blended family, which includes three adult children and two little ones. Danny enjoys skateboarding in his free time and has fun as an amateur recording artist and singer-songwriter.
Website and social media links:
Access our free 8-part Journey Mapping™ sampler program and begin uncovering the purpose of your path at www.TalesFromTheJourney.tv/Free/.
Read my memoir, Unravel: Rising Up and Coming Back from a Season of Living that Damn Near Killed Me at www.TheUnravelBook.com.