It’s 3 o’clock and Jourale has just arrived. He’s the first kid in the building, and he’ll probably be the last one to leave. After dropping off his stuff with the staff at the door, he heads to the gym. He picks up a basketball and gets ready for his first jump shot of the day. He squares up, grips the ball, and launches. The ball soars with the impossibly high arc that is his signature and falls in the net with a swoosh. He smiles. It’s going to be a good day.
In a building full of talented and unique children, Jourale stands out. Already at 13, he carries himself with confidence, and, to our staff’s satisfaction, is always open to trying new things. It’s this willingness to stand out that is the hallmark of his leadership. His courage to be different shows our other members the value in new experiences, and they, through his modeling, find new interests and talents.
But if it is his courage and independence that facilitates growth amongst his peers, it is his resiliency that will allow him to be successful. He’s a fearless competitor on the court, and a tough individual off of it. Life isn’t easy for any teenager, but Jourale has been placed in uniquely challenging circumstances. And although there are missteps along the way, he continues to show up, lead by example, and set new goals for himself.
He wants to be a professional basketball player, but he’s capable of so much – things he hasn’t even realized himself. That’s why we’re here – showing him his potential. Jourale’s membership highlights how important the work we do is. He been gifted with innate talents, but he just needs people in his corner to show him what he can do.
All children are vulnerable – some more than others, but we provide kids like Jourale with a safe environment, mentorship, support, and opportunity. We show them the possibilities for their future, like the Pathways program that introduces our members, Jourale among them, to professional opportunities in policing and nursing. We leverage their talents by creating programs in performing arts, STEAM, and athletics. We fill gaps in education with our literacy and math programs. But most importantly, we give them a place to find themselves as they get closer and closer to adulthood.
But we wouldn’t have been able to do this critical work for Jourale and others without contributions from people like you. Our mission to enable all our members to reach their full potential can only be achieved with continued support from our community. So for all you’ve done, and all you continue to do, we express our sincere gratitude.