Dear YLI Community:
We are beyond sad to announce that an incredible youth leader, Neng Thao, passed away this past Saturday, May 20. Neng was 18 years old, preparing to graduate as valedictorian of Edison High School, and was active in Fresno Boys and Men of Color, Fresno Youth Commission, and started his school’s Hmong Club.
Neng exemplified the values of YLI. He was a devoted son to his parents, a committed brother to his nine siblings, a loyal friend to all who knew him and a passionate resident of the City of Fresno. He had a spirit of giving and heart for people. He never did anything to gain acknowledgment but showed true humility in all of his work at school and in the community.
He pushed for the City of Fresno to create more opportunities for economic mobility. Neng said “We need internships for youth.” And the city heard. If you look on the City of Fresno website today, you will see summer jobs for youth in every City Department of Fresno. Fresno designated $100,000 for youth internships. That was thanks to the work of Neng and the entire Fresno Youth Commission, working in partnership with City Councilmembers.
One of Neng’s personal mottos was, “Lead by creating other leaders.” So on Wednesday, we gathered in his memory and also to continue to live out his vision for youth participating in community change. Our community gathered for the 8th Annual Community Youth Summit in Fresno. Over 200 youth and adult allies joined together to celebrate their accomplishments. Marissa Vang, who will be attending Dominican University this fall, received the Neng Thao Youth Volunteer of the Year Award with a generous scholarship provided by the City of Fresno. City Councilor Esmeralda Soria presented Marissa with this award. Neng wanted to see a happier, healthier, and more connected Fresno. We are working towards that vision.
The event ended with a candle light vigil in honor of Neng. You can watch the news coverage of Neng’s vigil at the Youth Summit.
The entire community is invited to Neng’s funeral.
When: Sunday, May 28 to Tuesday, May 30
YLI community will speak on Monday at 3:00pm
the building will be open 24 hours a day
Where: Fresno Fairground’s Gem and Mineral Building: 1121 S Chance Ave, Fresno, CA 93702
Gifts to the family in the form of contributions to support the cost of the funeral will be accepted at: https://www.gofundme.com/neng-thaos-funeral
Thank you Neng for giving us the opportunity to know you, to be inspired by you, and to continue your vision.
Senior Director, Central Valley