In the beginning of the year grants and proposals all come out of the woodwork. The need to reapply for monies allocated for community work must be divided and used, and I am fortunate enough to be a part of making this happen. So I was asked about a specific success at a place I volunteer, and I came up with nothing that stood out because…Success of the community does not reside in one child, program, or occurrence. Click To Tweet
It’s not in just one child or teen, or in an age group, or a gender. The success I’ve watched over the past 6 months is in the community.
It’s a place to go after school.
From the first day of arrival, quiet kids arrived in small packs or solo. Filling out forms with nary a wave in the lips- flat lines drawn tight on their faces. Asking questions relayed to them by an adult from home- a parent, an aunt, a grandparent, an older brother. All of these people unable to be home at 3pm and in an avoidance of raising a latch-key generation, these beautiful minds end up here.
They spill into the hall from pickup games of basketball, space-ball, soccer, and volleyball. Where the kids do more than play- they master skills of teamwork, mentoring, and how to interact with adults. Physical control, policing themselves on the courts, and taking constructive criticism from new friends and employees alike, who see how they can improve their jump shots from the sidelines.
Ping pong, Giant Jenga, Connect-4 tournaments, a few games of pool and the kids have brackets set up- learning the power of strategic play and focused energy. Each move played in their heads in a split-second before making a move. And it’s a joy to watch them shake after a game, learning after a few visits to the rec center that we don’t, in fact, condone a yelp of loss.
It’s a warm place to land.
Piles of kids atop old couches, leaning over each other assisting with homework, the older of the bunch lamenting with the younger about their teachers and how it gets better… or doesn’t. Sharing snacks from home and swapping highlighters and pens for drawing.
A lively game of hide-and-seek starts, and suddenly the doors come alive with little bodies shimmed behind them, giggles from the sink as an at-home science assignment to make slime comes together and the hypothesis is proven! A whole crew, heads bowed, as they clean up the mess they’ve made, heads turned as they steal smiles and giggles to each other… secretly enjoying their experiment’s success.
It’s mentors who want to be there.
The Center’s success is one of the most prized because it does not live in one person, or activity, or program. It lies in the community. In the children. In the future. It’s the members of the neighborhoods of CITY that come every week, bring friends, new ideas, camaraderie and opportunity to make an impact across a generation.Define success in your community. Click To Tweet