The last week of May was special for me. On Monday, May 22, I got to watch several boys I’ve watched grow up graduate from Palo Duro High School. The kids we work with overcome so many odds to obstacles to become graduates (oftentimes the first in their family to do so). Later that week I had a single mom who we’ve walked with for many years proudly text me the photos of her getting to walk the stage to get her GED. This is literally a life-changing achievement for her. And these are things we play a small role in encouraging, assisting, modeling as we walk with kids and families, week after week after week.
The following Memorial Day weekend, I had the privilege and honor of flying to Minneapolis to help officiate the wedding of my Jimi, a young man I’ve watched grow up from a goofy kid at the North Grand Villas into a volunteer and summer employee at Mission 2540 into a Bethel University graduate heading off to Truett Seminary. This was a special time for me, spending the weekend with Jimi and his friends, who were among the first attendees of Camp Awesome and are now thriving young adults.
Graduations and weddings are part of the reason I always say “the most important thing we do is come back.” We want to walk with families as long as they’ll have us. That’s how we see generational change. That’s how families take a step out of poverty.
But there’s one another thing I did the last week of May just as important as attending a graduation or officiating a wedding. At Spring Terrace that Tuesday, I was talking to one of our 3rd grade boys. He was worried, because their year-end field day was the next morning. One of the competitions was a paper airplane throwing contest. He was sad and embarrassed because he didn’t know how to fold a paper airplane. He said he didn’t care about winning, he just wanted one that would fly. So I sat down with him, and we remedied that situation in 15 minutes. He knows how to fold an airplane now. Of course, when I asked him about it the next week, he said his airplane flipped and went backwards. So he didn’t win. But he at least was able to participate!
He also learned that sometimes instead of giving up and pouting, it’s important to ask for help. Week after week, as we spend time with him, I hope he learns other little lessons like that. I pray I get the chance to see him walk across the stage for his diploma. And maybe even see him marry the girl of his dreams.
As you look at the photos below, know that is our prayer for each of these kids. That they’ll walk a stage to receive a diploma, that they’ll find jobs and families and create a life for themselves. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.