Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patience brother, patience

This past week has been filled with a lot of drama with boys. It's been a week of ups and downs. Thank God that their our people in my life to give me great advice and encouragement.

Last month we started our basketball team up again. It's actually 2 teams consisting of a varsity league and a jv league. We have 10 guys on the varsity and 8 on the jv. More than basketball it's a place where we can holistically mentor these youth. It's become very clear to me that the boys I've gotten to know our seniors this year and time is running out before life starts handing out its sentences. What I mean is, if some of these guys don't start taking life a little more seriously than they will just be repeating the mistakes of their parents and following the way of broken homes and children without parents born into a country where anything is achievable.

With that in mind we entered last week. The boys for the most part seemed to be responding to the messages and also to the coaching by our staff. School started and something kicked in the boys head, 3 regulars decided to miss practice without calling, 2 out of 3 even had good excuses. Saturday morning 2 of our varsity and I'd say more mature guys decided to have breakdowns and 1 even decided to quit on the team for the day. This has lead to a suspension and other punishments. Of course the guys weren't the most pleasant to be around after all this occurred.

Now comes the advice part, Sunday, Grams (an 80 year old Phd educator and charter school pioneer)asked how thing were going and I said it's a little tough right now, without going into details. She then begins to tell me to have patience as they didn't just happen to wake up one morning and become broken kids with broken families and it takes time to grow and heal. I than speak with 2 other people whom have been in Urban settings for awhile 30+ years for both and amazingly they both cautioned me to be patient and stay the course. I was lobbying Jeff to do something and even change the curriculum we have planned for this Thursday. To make a long story shorter, Monday night I see a couple of the problem kids and they either apologized to the appropriate person or told me that they were ready to "take their medicine for bad behavior". I was ready to change the plan we had put in place even knowing that we would encounter these tough time. So my prayer is to have patience and realize that it's a marathon and not a sprint I'm running.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A New Beginning

I've got a great story of a second chance I'm proud to be able to tell. Pull up a chair, grab something to drink and read away. Last year at this time Jeff and I were basically given 12 guys to form a basketball team with. We knew nothing of these guys and they new nothing of me and just the football persona of Jeff. As I've blogged over the past year I've developed relationship with most of these boys and I'm happy to say that I'm still in touch with all of them to one degree or another. Here's the story of one of the young men I know.

This young man was and is a beast on the athletic field, whether it be basketball, football, wrestling or probably any sport. Problem though...he started missing practices and we had no idea where he was as his phone would be shut off or it just didn't get answered. We liked having him around as he was a good kid although like any young man he could have his moments. During these formative time with the boys, I was investing in other young man and was unable to invest much time into this young man. Thank God that Jeff was able to have an in depth conversation with him on a ride home. This young man, we come to find out, has 4 siblings all under 10 years of age. With his mom working, it is up to him to tend for these siblings. This all comes at the expense of school, activities, or anything he chooses to do.

Enter Bill, Bill is a man who has 3 children all in high school or starting college. I got to know Bill through a small group of men I meet with every tuesday morning. Bill has had quite the year as far as challenges, from personal to business. Bill tells me that he wants to help with our Monday night basketball. Of course we let him, and Bill starts coming to Monday nights. I introduce Bill to a few of the guys that I'm unable to spend much time with and sure enough, he and Bill hit it off. Bill starts mentoring him! Bill starts to know him better and better. He finds out the his cumultative GPA is around very low. He is in his junior year in high school and he is not going to graduate. Bill has him tested and sure enough, this is a bright kid! Life has just dealt him a bad hand.

Around this time Bill meets with an old friend who is an alumni of Kiski school. (www.kiski.org) Kiski is a private college prep school. Bill tells his story and this is where the story starts getting good. This man says that Kiski takes on students like this young man but not very many of them pursue the opportunity. Bill start the process of seeing if he fits although he is already a junior in high school. While the process is ongoing, Bill gets a phone call out of the blue from Malcolm's uncle. This man tells him that he is a Kiski Grad and now a PhD and he know the headmaster personally! The uncle lives in Colorado Springs and he wants to know if Bill is serious about helping him. The answer is of course yes, so the uncle starts working on the family and also introduces Bill to the headmaster. The headmaster was also introduced by the donor. Many hurtles came up as his current high school thought it was a joke and didn't send the transcripts in a timely fashion. His english teacher sent a great recommendation to Kiski. All said, 6 months of working on this and he is ACCEPTED into Kiski! This happened 3 weeks ago. One problem, Bill assumed that the scholarship was in addition to the donor funds. Well the donor funds and the scholarship were the same money which meant that he was only half way funded to be able to attend Kiski. 2 weeks and Bill needed to raise $20K. Well minus around $2500 he is attending Kiski. He is going back to repeat a grade but on successful graduation, he has the opportunity to be accepted into any University out there!

I'm excited as Saturday night I have the opportunity to pick up hun at Kiski so he can come home for the holiday. This young man, who one year ago was lost and had a dismal future in front of him now has a new beginning!