One of the best parts of my work at the Centers is receiving the "bad" kids--I mean, kids who have made poor choices--and are sent on timeout from after-school programs at Humboldt Park. I love those kids. Last week, just a few moments into our afternoon, I was visited by a roomful of three middle schoolers, all refusing to write their Parts of Speech poems. Asked to write a poem about their block that began with an adjective, all three middle schoolers responded with the enthusiasm of a speed bump. Pencils never touched paper.
"Ok, it's your choice," I said, taking out the Discipline Policy papers. "Write the poem and get a timeout for disrespect, or take a week off for refusing to follow directions." This choice pushed seventh-grade Adonis* over the edge. He was on his feet instantly.
"All these women here telling me what to do!" he shouted, eyes filling with tears. "Ya'll can't just leave me alone! I'm just trying to come in here and stay safe because my block is bloody and there's people being killed all over the place and I'm not writing about that!"
Other kids sent out. Office door closed. Adonis understood. Peace restored.
Adonis wrote a new poem on the stipulation that it still not be read out loud. His poem read, "Bird, flying."
"Is 'flying' an adjective or a verb?"
Oh, dear ones, we at Centers also do not want to write about Block, Bloody. We want to write about Kids, Flying. Families, Restored. Communities, Beautiful. The amazing fact that Adonis stands in my office instead on the streets proves that they can do it; even now, in small ways, they are flying.
Join us. We pray for no less than miracles, transformations, and restorations only God can bring about. In the practical side of that, we also offer the opportunity to join us--to give. On April 17th, New Life Community Church is collecting an offering for New Life Centers, and all funds collected that day will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $20,000 total. On April 17th, join us in believing the blood can stop and our kids can fly. Give online April 17th at nlcenters.org.
God's greatest blessings to you and yours.
*Name and photo changed to protect the one who didn't want his poem read aloud.