Last night I had a phone conversation with Ieshah, our freshman at Milliken. I was struck by how easy and casual was our brief chat. Normal. Almost mundane. "How's your second semester going." "Fine. Classes are hard though. I joined a sorority. It focuses on services to developmentally disabled." "A lot of papers this semester? Are you going to beat last semester's 3.3 GPA?" "Yeah, papers...and the chemistry and math. This nursing program is hard, but I'm staying ahead." "Why haven't you filled out your paperwork for the BHGH scholarship money? I bet the school would like to get paid." [We both chuckle.] "Yeah, I've just been so busy. I'll get to it this week." "Good," I said, "And call me more often. We love you and are proud of you." "okay, bye."
I hung up, thanking God that she is doing well. Busy and well, maybe a little stressed out. Not in crisis though. Then I thought of the young woman that was buried last weekend.
As a girl, she came to Girls Hope ten years before Ieshah. Her classmates from St. Peter's Catholic School remember her and cared enough to donate $1,100 to help the two young children that were orphaned when she died, apparently just one more of a steady stream of victims of the rampant and senseless killing devastating our community. It's not surprising she made such an impression on those middle school classmates despite their short time together. This beautiful young lady, strikingly similar to Ieshah in may ways, had a disarming smile, a bubbly personality, a quick wit, and tons of potential. She was also, as our mission states, "an academically capable and motivated child in need."
Unlike Ieshah, she insisted on leaving Girls Hope. The team could not hold on to her. For whatever reason, she never adjusted to the caring, structured environment and the high expectations. Or so I'm told, as she left a few years before I joined BHGH. What a waste of potential! She could have been in a sorority, studying nursing, expanding her world. She could have graduated from college and begun her career by now. She could be making the world a better place.
Seconds and inches. Or as my father always said, "There but for the grace of God go I." It strikes me as somewhat remarkable that Ieshah's life is so normal. The scholars of Boys Hope Girls Hope have been thrust into a world that is hostile to their dreams. They've faced circumstances I would never want my children to face. I'm amazed at their resilience. But, because of God's grace, and your cooperation with that grace, they are given a fair shot at breaking the cycle.
I have no doubt that if you're part of our team, you are a life saver. If you can play an even greater part, please let us know. We need you. Our scholars need you. The rewards are incredible.
Please keep our young people, their families, and our staff in your thought and prayers. As always, thank you very much.
With warm regards,