“I Just saw a shooting!”
-Roger, 10 yrs. old, Camp Freedom
Roger bursts through the doors of our lobby full of excitement. Roger, like most 5th grade boys I know, is usually full of excitement so this didn’t draw much notice. I know Roger pretty well because spends a lot of time in the lobby outside my office. The lobby is the unofficial penalty box for Camp Freedom kids who need to chill out and get redirected after a conversation with staff.
“Roger, how ya’ doin’?” I said casually, as he stopped to get a drink of water.“Good!” he bubbled.
“What a terrific day, huh? We finally got some spring weather.”
“Yeah!” he agreed.
“So, how’re you doing with what we talked about? Are you staying on point?” ON a recent stint in the penalty box I had invited Roger into my office for a heart to heart. I wanted to see if he was following through.
“Yeah, I’m doing good!” instantly followed by “I saw a shooting!”
That’s kind of a conversation changer. It was weird how the events he had just witnessed seemed normal to him and, in fact, exhilarating. Equally weird was it did not shock me either. These things happen in the city, ten-year olds see it, and we work with it.
“Hmm, tell me about it.” I said, wanting to hear the facts and know how he was feeling about it.
“We were outside my house playing after school when I heard ‘pop, pop, pop’ and saw these two dudes on my block shooting down the street. Then they started running towards whoever they were shooting at. I ran here right away. It was scary.”
The shooting was on his block. It seemed off to me that he ran to UrbanPromise instead of running home. “Why did you run here instead of running home?” I asked
“Because I knew it would be safe here,” he said matter of factly as thought the answer was obvious.
“Did you tell Miss Kristin?” Kristin Walker is his Camp Freedom Director. She has worked with Roger and his family for years. Kristin and Roger have spent a lot of time in the lobby together.
“Yes, she was the first person I told.”
Kristin and staff like her are the frontline in a war to save our kids. Often I think this is metaphorical – in the middle of tough environments our programs give kids hope, support their education, and provide vision. But the image of bullets flying and the prospects of a short life are all to real for our kids and families. What is it like to be ten years old and live in a war zone? Kristin is in the trenches, and I knew she could help Roger deal with this. And so did Roger.
It was amazing to me that when Roger needed safety, he ran to UrbanPromise.
Ten-year-old boys should be able to play outside, to run around and to be kids. When they do that in my neighborhood, it sounds like fun. When they do it in the neighborhoods of Wilmington, it sounds dangerous, both physically and emotionally. In fact, as Roger’s story makes clear, it is dangerous. You can directly and powerfully change that.
Our summer camp program is a major force in our neighborhoods for safety and transformation. We need your help urgently. Summer is our most expensive time because it’s when we serve the most kids- over 400. Our camps are excellent but to make them available to the most under privileged families our camps are free. The kids on the toughest blocks have the greatest need for safety, for vision and love and healthy fun. I need you to give our kids a summer of promise instead of trauma. Your gift really is a matter of life and death.
Your gift of $300 will sponsor a child for the whole summer. $50 will sponsor one week. Roger loves to play kick ball. We need $125 to buy kick balls and other sporting equipment. Send all six camps on a day trip with your support of $1100 or be a camp sponsor for $5000.
Through the love of Christ UrbanPromise is a safe place that gives kids a chance. And the kids know it. We can’t do this without your generosity. Join us on the front lines and protect our kids with your gift. Thank you.