I don't know if it's to early to recap the year but who cares! It's my blog. This year has been a very defining year for myself and the ministry I'm working in. Let's look at this year in review.
January 2010-The year started off with a bang. We had a basketball team that was invited to play in a high school basketball league for small schools. These were mostly Charter schools or very small private schools. It was definitely a great match for the caliber of players we had as our best players were on their high school basketball teams. I also planned an event for MLK Day for our youth that was attended by approximately 100 people. It was a great event as I was able to secure Reverend Robinson to speak to our youth about the times he spent with MLK personally and also talk about the Civil Rights Movement which he was an integral part of and led the Pittsburgh area in its role in the movement. The most touching part for me was sitting with him in the beginning of the night while a slide show was showing pictures of the events that happened back in the early 60's and to have the Rev start telling me the names of everyone in the different photos. He commented on the slide show and how nice it was to have all those pictures as it stirred a lot of memories.
February- We finished up our basketball league and begun planning for the baseball season. I remember feeling very tired and worn out during this period as I was basically working 6 days a week and often into the evenings. We started doing a Thursday night baseball clinic to start getting our boys ready for baseball. Early in the month I was invited to a Men's retreat at Jumonville. I brought four high school seniors with me as I thought it would be a good experience. This weekend coincided with the blizzard that hit Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. We were snowed in up at Jumonville and the boys were stuck with only staying at the retreat. We talked about heading into town for a movie but were unable to due to the blizzard conditions. It was an interesting experiment and next time I will only make the boys attend just a couple of sessions although they were listening as they won some prizes at the end by answering questions about what was gone over during the retreat. It totally surprised me. I begin questioning the boys about their financial aid for next year.
March-Baseball season started with clinics every Saturday and pitching clinics on Thursday nights. I also began putting pressure on the boys I work with who are seniors on starting to figure out and make decisions on what they were going to do next year.
April - Baseball season started. We had a fantastic opening day and the weather permitted us to have a carnival along with some great baseball. We were asked to join the Josh Gibson league which was an answer to prayers for the 11-12 year olds as we were having difficulty getting games for them. The boys loved it and the fact that they had 2 sets of uniforms made them feel awesome. We decided to start an AAU Team for basketball and it gave a way for our high school boys to do something for the spring and early summer. Easter came and I was able to have a bbq and easter egg hunt on my block for the kids in my neighborhood. I was also able to spend a few days at Myrtle Beach golfing.
May-I started to feel the pinch for the boys I'd been mentoring for 1 1/2 years at this time. I realized that they didn't have parents who knew anything about getting them into college and if they were going to attend I was going to have to take some ownership in leading them. We started taking trips to different University's and they boys started making decisions. Baseball was in full swing and took up most of my evenings and afternoons taking care of the field, concessions while running the 2 teams for 11-12 year olds. We had only a few rain delays so games overall went as scheduled.
June- Baseball ended and we had an awesome awards ceremony. The end of baseball is always bittersweet as you realize you won't see some of the kids for almost 6 months as a lot of them play football. I spent a lot of time doing financial aid work and getting the boys ready for college. I also spent time at Penn State as I had to attend 4 different orientation sessions but I also became acquainted with the Chancellor of the school and that my be a blessing for future students.
July- I spent almost 3 weeks in July in Utah. I was able to attend a family reunion which was a great blessing. Since my father passed away in November 2009, my family has really renewed our relationships and it has been great to get close to some of my siblings again. I also was able to spend time with friends and other relatives. My aunt Marva and uncle Roger hosted a party at their home and a few other relatives visited. My friends always treat me right and I was able to share many meals and conversations with old friends. I also spoke about my experiences in Pittsburgh in front of about 400 people at K2 the Church south campus. I felt blessed to be able to share what the Lord is doing in my life.
August - This is a time to get ready for the fall programs. I was busy getting things ready for the fall as well many meetings with parents and practices with kids. I also helped get 6 boys off to college, 4 to Penn State and 2 to Loch Haven. I kind of became the go to guy when others dropped the ball so these boys had everything from financial aid to NCAA eligibily requirements so they could play sports ready. An interesting thing started to happen at this time. Other students who graduated started to drop in or call and ask for help. As of this time (December) I've now helped over 24 students get into the different Options that are out there for youth once they graduate or finish high school. I must admit that when I dropped the boys off to school that I almost cried.
September - We started with our outreach programs and I took on more of a leadership role. We also had our teams in full gear so I felt like I was busy for almost 6 days a week. My Athletic director noticed this and didn't want to burn me out so we lightened my load a bit so I didn't have to work 6 days a week.
October - October was a tough month as one of the students I've known for several years decided to continue making poor decisions and one cost him his freedom and he is now in jail. This really shook me up as I was followed by potential shooters who were looking for him. This was reflective month and a month to really make sure that I was safe as well as making the right decisions. I will remember October 2010 as a month marked with violence, shootings and deaths. It really seemed to explode during this month.
November - This is the month of Thanksgiving. I was able to help with both the Soccer celebration and Basketball league celebrations early on in the month. We had great events and were enjoyed by all. I also helped with getting some middle school youth set up for some baseball hitting clinics at an indoor facility the MLB and Pirates organization started in Pittsburgh. We are hoping to start a Pony league in the fall for these boys, God willing. I was able to spend my Thanksgiving in Blacksburg, VA with old SLC friends who relocated. It was special as I spent over 10 Thanksgivings with them in SLC. I was spoiled by Donna and Asa and had a great time. I look forward to visiting more often as it was closer than I thought.
December- So far so good, I've been able to watch my boys play for Penn State NK and I'm looking forward to heading to Salt Lake City to spend my Christmas out there.
This is my year in review....I know I missed a lot of things but this is what stood out at this time.
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