Today, I sat in a funeral home, once again choking back tears because another young life was lost to street violence. As I looked around the packed house at all the young faces mourning the loss of their friend, I felt heartsick. Sitting there, I had an overwhelming desire to stand up and take them back with us to the Center so we can love them well and invest in their lives. The minister was thundering from the front for the youngsters to slow down, and my feelings of desperation grew. Is this the future these kids have to look forward to? Lives marked by trauma, violence, and death?
This past week at the Center, a group of kids decorated our Christmas tree, laughing and delighted as they hung beautiful donated ornaments. These are kids we’ve known for years and helped through school and the juvenile justice system––kids who have fought to reclaim their lives and break the cycles of violence and isolation we see on a daily basis. They show up at the Center week after week for connection, dinner, to tell their stories through music and video, and to dream about a different kind of future.
The internet and television have been filled with messages of gloom and despair. Hopelessness is plentiful and yet we have hope because of our work inside of the juvenile lock-up facilities featured in the following video. Creating space to Record, Reconnect and Restore young offenders is breaking the cycle of destruction and devastation.
Another reason we are even more hopeful is displayed in this original work by one of our young artists, Courage, who is sharing about his experience growing up in the city and trying to use art as a weapon against violence.
Good things are happening everyday. I am trying to stay open to look in the “spaces in-between” for the joy that certainly exists. Friday night we will be celebrating with over 100 young people who are also looking in the spaces in-between for joy. They are part of my joy.
This December we invite you to dream with us and our youth for a new year filled with opportunity and hope. Your donation will help 300 young people formerly caught up in destruction and isolation receive supportive services, connect with caring mentors, experience the power of art, and constructively engage with their communities.
Your support has helped us achieve audacious goals! Please help us continue this life-giving work and invest in our youth today!
Co-Founder and Executive Director