Someone 2 Know: Role Model Summit
Victim turned victor, Jason Guinasso got caught up in gangs early in life. However, now he is a successful attorney with a servant's heart. How he turned his life around and how he is working to inspire today's youth in this week's Someone 2 Know.
Thursday, April 16th 2015, 6:18 PM PDT by
Sunday, November 19th 2017, 7:22 PM PST
"Rainbow three, rainbow three, back door, back door!" Jason Guinasso yells a play across the basketball court to a team of young girls eager to learn the sport. Jason's team looks up to him as a coach, a volunteer, a teacher and a role model. However, Jason will be the first to tell you he has not always lived an exemplary life. “I wasn't a very pleasant kid to deal with. I was angry; I had a lot of issues."
Jason's mom had seven kids; all with different fathers. He says the last one, Jason's step-father, did a number on him. “She had settled on this one man who was violent and angry and abusive." So Jason left home and joined a gang. “Having other guys who were willing to take me in, who were willing to fight with me and for me," he explains. After almost a year on the streets, Jason returned home where the violence continued. With street-life perspective, he says he fought back - much to his mother's dismay.
Jason drove us to a bus stop in Sun Valley, where he recalls feeling the most pain of his young life. After a fight with his step-father, Jason will never forget the conversation he had with his mother there. "She grabbed me by the throat here, picked me up, screamed at me and as I broke her hold and pushed her away, she said, 'You're not my son anymore.'" Jason then joined another, more violent gang. They saw something in him that he didn't see himself and they insisted he go back to school. "If you can imagine, these hard core, drug-dealing, gang members taking me to Washoe High School,” and they even gave him lunch money for about six months. But then Jason was busted in possession of a sawed-off shotgun with intent to seek revenge on a bully. Police found it in the car he was riding and arrested him. Instead of institutionalizing him, authorities placed Jason in a loving, faith-filled home. He says the right people at the right time intervened in his life.
"And that's exactly what I really needed; a family to love me, to communicate that I had purpose beyond my choices."
Fast forward and that once lost teenager graduated cum laude from the University of Nevada. Jason went to law school at the University of Oregon and is now a successful attorney at the Law Firm of Reese, Kintz, Guinasso. What is even more rewarding is he is a loving husband and father, who not only reminds his kids, but all the young lives he impacts these three things: "That they're valued, they have purpose beyond their circumstances and choices and that they're worth fighting for."
Jason will be a speaker at a powerful event next week called the Role Model Summit. KTVN's Wendy Damonte is on the Board of Directors, which invited a team of speakers to dozens of northern Nevada schools to help inspire students. Some of the speakers include Patty Sheehan, Cody Fajardo, David Wise and KTVN's Kristen Remington.
Tickets are still available for the Role Model Summit 2015 Banquet on Thursday, April 23rd at the Peppermill. Tickets cost $50 a person. You can buy yours at Silver and Blue Outfitters at Meadowood Mall or log onto http://www.rolemodelsummit.com/