This has been a most challenging week for a number of reasons. I'll not bore with details, except to say at times a person can wonder if there is any hope of real, sustainable, substantive progress.
Then, things happen.
Hope pops all around unexpectedly and in amazing, strange ways.
Mid-morning on Wednesday: a young friend, brought to the US from Mexico as a child by his parents, literally against his will--he was 12 at the time and his daddy made him come--drops in to see me. I've known him for well over a decade. So, this man is a classic for the DREAM Act--a child brought into the country as a minor by undocumented immigrants needing just relief so that he can stay here and put his good education to work.
As he discusses the business that brought him to see me, he begins to reminisce. He shares with me just how hard it was to leave Mexico, his grandmother, his cousins, his extended family. He confesses the deep seated anger that he held inside against his father. In the midst of our talk he tells me that many of us at CitySquare stepped in and became "substitute" family.
"You guys became my family, Larry," he spoke through free flowing tears. "You took the place of my uncles, aunts, grandmother and cousins. You shaped my life and helped me get beyond my anger."
It was amazing catharsis for him and for me.
As he spoke, a new understanding of the power and proficiency of community fell on my understanding of the importance of human connection and mutuality across silly, artificially imposed barriers.
I was so glad that he came by.
Early afternoon Wednesday: Janet Morrison appears at my door with a young man at her side. She reminds me that he is Gustavo Vidal, one of "her kids." Gustavo had come up through Janet's programming, first as a participant student and then as a helper with the other children.
Several years earlier Gustavo had applied for and received a CitySquare scholarship award to help pay his expenses at the University of Texas in Austin. He just graduated!
Gustavo handed me a note that read:
I am writing to thank you for all the support that CitySquare has given to me since I was in elementary school. Many of the education programs were extremely helpful in helping me take the steps I needed to take to attend college. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for the time and resources that you made available to me. I graduated this May with a degree in Government and with it I hope to be able to work in public policy. Hopefully one day I will be able to help people in the same way you helped me. Thank you. Yours sincerely, Gustavo Vidal
Gustavo had returned to us to volunteer in our growing public policy work in the community.
So much then for feeling hopeless!