It has been hard lately.A wise friend/ mentor told me, running a nonprofit is a very unpredictable businesses.Fund raising is so hard.The kids I work with are hard, addiction is hard.
I just found out that one of my MOST beloved girls has come back to Jail.As much as I pride myself in the fact that my organization has less that a 10% recidivism, in a world where 75% recidivism is the norm -I know that 10% is amazing.
I have worked with about 300 kids in last few years.That means at least 25 of them return to jail.I fall in love with each one and 25 times my heart is crushed.
I know, I know, but still.
I know it’s not me, it is them and their life. But still.
Long ago when I dated, and a boy or man told me it’s not me, it’s them.
It really didn’t make a difference.
It didn’t heal my heart or make it feel better.It hurt like hell, and that was when they were actually doing me a favor!
I have been trying to get my foot in the door of Homeboy industries for a long time.I simply couldn’t make it happen. Then someone came to talk at my synagogue and I talked to him, and HE got me in.
I now teach a weekly class .And my monthly program that is for graduates who are released from jail Out and Up meets there.
This week, on Monday was my first class .They asked me to come early to introduce the class at the morning meditation.
It has been so incredibly hard lately, we didn’t get a big grant we were hoping to get. My beautiful assistant took a full time job –and is no longer working with me.
How much longer can I do this?
And then came Monday.
I woke up to a quiet house my kids were on vacation and everyone was asleep –
I left and went to homeboys (HBI) and life in its fullest force hit me.
It was 8;15 in the morning and people were coming ,people were going, people with purpose , vital ,happy . Out- side the building was a medical truck –from St. Jude’s Children’s hospital to give, to take care, and to do.
In back of the medical truck was a woman with a van dropping off cloths, clearly nice business attire. Suits, and dresses .Later people walked into my class holding articles from that pile, a button down shirt, a sports jacket.
HBI motto is “Nothing stops a bullet like a job”
How true, how incredibly true.
We gather for the morning announcements, the man speaking has a tattoo on his cheek that says “Dead end” clearly he has found the path out of that dead end.
I look around, there is such hope and excitement for the day to come.
You feel the possibility in the air –because once you get out of a dead end that leads you nowhere, honestly?
You can go anywhere.
Someone speaks. A prayer is said, and everyone leaves to continue the day.
I have a few hours till my class –I work a little and then I go to do an errand.
As I am walking into the building I hear my name being called, I turn around and I almost fall over.
“What you doing here?” She asks
OH MY GOODNESS!!!!HI HI HI !!!
“I’m teaching a class here!” I answer
This was a girl who was in my program 16 months ago –
She is out.
She is clean.
She attends Pierce College.
She just got a scholarship and is transferring to UC Santa Cruz.
She works at HBI .
She is safe, she has it all together.
My heart might just jump out of my body.
It has been hard lately, but then there is one.
For that one to happen it truly, but TRULY takes a village the village is the dots that we run the line of successes through.
It was my Jewish Community at IKAR that connected me finally to Homeboys.
It was Homeboys that connected me to my girl.
My girl pulled through with guidance and help form other organizations and individuals who quietly bring the suits and dresses the mentors, the people that do the work they are all the dots.
Surprisingly, there were 15 people in my class, we expected maybe 3 or 4.
We laughed we played and I was filled with hope, love and possibility.
Homeboys industry is the dot mecca.
You can be covered with tattoos.
You can be an ex addict.
You can not be -
But there, they invite you patiently with great care and give you the dots.
If you are willing to do the work, if you are committed to connecting the dots, then you will find success.
For me, sometimes the dots are spread so far apart, I can barely catch my breath.
But today they were close, they surrounded me, they kept me warm,and reminded me that when they do connect?Ahh, when the dots connect?
Well, when the dots connect there is incredible grace, and an abundance of joy.