Summer has come; school is about to be out, so we are gearing up for our summer program. We are going to concentrate on two different tracks this summer: an educational track that supports and motivates youth toward a stronger participation in school, and a vocational track that exposes and prepares youth, that are not necessarily college bound, in the skilled trades. Both will include team building activities and outings that expose youth to careers.
A longer term goal is to bring an Educational Specialist aboard to build a strong educational curriculum that will engage our youth in a structure that will give them the tools needed to break a cycle of poverty, violence, incarceration and/or early death. This longer term goal is in collaboration with St. Xavier University here in Chicago.
Much of the chronic failure that young people experience is due to the trauma in their lives. They have a hard time imagining a future. In some cases youth don’t even believe they will ive into adulthood, and, in other cases, they are just so caught up in the daily struggle – surviving – that they don’t have the capacity to dream of something different.
Precious Blood Frs. Jim Gaynor and Máximo Mecia were here from Peru a couple of days ago. Fr. Jim and I were talking about our work and the struggles that the people have to endure – many are the same struggles. We spoke, too, of how blessed we were in growing up with strong family support. The simplest things that I took for granted are precisely what these kids need and long for: family structure, safety, a supportive community, quality education, and a faith lived by adults as a model of what it is to be a good human being.
At the core of our Precious Blood Center is a commitment to demonstrate and share those fundamental needs. We strive to offer guidance and care so that our youth have the capacity to make the tough choices in life. Not going to school wasn’t even a thought for me as a kid. But, just yesterday, one of the kids told me that he had to babysit his little sisters and brothers and so he couldn’t go to school. For him, it is a regular occurrence; his mom just didn’t come home.
I get angry at those who fail these kids in such profound ways: parents who aren’t there for them, and systems that are unwilling to listen long enough to know what’s really going on in their lives. And these are the ones charged with ensuring that our youth have what they need!
Even in the midst of it all, I am strengthened by our spirituality – that our good work will be blessed and bear fruit a hundredfold. I am strengthened, too, by the resolve of some of our families and youth. Just yesterday, Joe, a 17 year-old kid, told me some of what he was going through. He just needed to have a place and someone he trusted to talk with about his struggles. I thank God he had enough trust in me and that he had the strength to open up and not keep things bottled up.
Frankly, as the Precious Blood Center, we need to do more; we need more people who can create strong relationships both with our youth and their families. We need to supply what is lacking in the lives of these children and their families before we lose them to the streets and the prisons. We need to find the funds to strengthen these efforts and offer a strong education curriculum to redirect the lives of the youth of our community.
Be assured that as much as we need your financial support, we certainly know that we need your prayers and for all we are extremely grateful.
Thanks for being there and supporting us along the way. God bless you and your families!
Take good care,
P.S. We had a basketball tournament yesterday coordinated by a young man from the neighborhood who just graduated from Graceland University in Iowa. He is giving back to his community. I love it!