“StreetLeaders illustrate greatness from the city.”
– Anjanae Wilmore, camp director and former StreetLeader
Imagine you’re in a Pandemic. OK, that wasn’t that hard.
But now imagine you’re 8 years old in a Pandemic. You live in a crowded neighborhood. Your school, where you’d see your friends every day, is closed. When it felt like a snow day you were happy, but after a couple weeks you’re bored stiff and want to go back to school with your friends. You have five other children and three adults in your house, and a postage stamp back yard. Your Mom works at a nursing home and you can feel something isn’t right when she comes home. You haven’t visited relatives or seen the inside of a grocery store for weeks and you’re tired of people explaining why. You just want things to go back to what they were. And nobody can tell you when that will happen.
I learned this perspective when I interviewed our Team Leaders (TL’s) yesterday. TL’s are top leaders from our StreetLeader® job training program. This week our StreetLeaders came back to work, the last cog in what has been a high functioning response to COVID.
StreetLeaders are a key weapon in our battle against COVID. I’m asking you to fight COVID with them by giving towards their pay. It’s a high value, high impact gift, and gives you a tangible investment in the front line. They’ll have a job, purpose, direction, and impact. Their families will have a source of income. Our community will have an added resource of dynamic, young leadership. StreetLeaders will be the new frontline in the aftermath. Here’s the conversation I had with the Team Leaders that makes me believe that:
“At first I didn’t think it would amount to anything,” said Nate, “And all of a sudden people were out of work, the schools were closed and it felt serious.”
Tariq agreed, “I just didn’t think it would come to Delaware. When we left I thought ‘What am I supposed to do now? Do I have to get another job?’ When we started back up it was just really good to see everybody. It cheered me up. I love working here.”
“When Cyber Camp started I was so relieved I could keep working,” David shared. “The kids just wanted to interact talk and have fun with everybody and see their friends. They wanted to forget what was going on and Camp lets them do that.”
Cheri added her view. “Cyber Camp, I wondered what it would be like. I know my kids. I thought they’d say it’s annoying, but I was shocked that kids were coming to camp. I thought they’d think ‘what’s the point of a cyber camp?’ I was amazed at the positivity, surprised at their attitudes. It helps all of us. Just laughing together. Cyber Camp gives us a break from the world.”
Brandon shared his own feelings: “At first I kind of liked the lockdown. We could be on social media, sleep in. But then I started missing having stuff to do, being busy. It was good to be away from things just to be able to think, but then I started to think too much. I realized the time I spent in Camp was better spent and a good investment. I missed it.”
David offered a key observation: “The kids look up to us. When they see us coming back they know we’re committed to them.”
Nate closed our interview: “It’s important for us to be back to work, to give the kids some place to go, to laugh. You don’t know family situations, what they’re going through, how they’re stuck in the house. Cyber Camp is a place we can all go together.”
Aaron Orr leads these young leaders as our StreetLeader Director. “I was worried we would not be able to pay StreetLeaders during this time and as things got worse the risk felt bigger. But in my heart, I was hopeful we would take the risk because it makes a statement about our StreetLeaders. I see the work they are putting in, the new skills they are learning, and the important way they are growing.”
Friend, help us take this important risk. Give our teens jobs, their families income, and our community front line leaders. A gift of $300 gives David the job he loves for a month while $50 pays a StreetLeader for a week. $1800 pays all six Team Leaders I interviewed for a month of impact, and a gift of $200 covers a new StreetLeader’s pay. Give $1000 to tell Aaron, we share the risk and rejoice in the reward together. All of us want to do more to make a difference. Here’s a really good opportunity to help and empower.
God bless you! Thank you!