I met up with a couple of the college kids this evening to help them with paperwork for a scholarship. When we met up, one of them asked me if I had seen his cousin. I said I hadn't, though he had just called me last week out of the blue and asked me to help him with his college paperwork (he's 21). For the last 2 years, we've been talking about college and I've been telling him what he needs to do, but so far he has never followed through. I was hoping this time was different.
The question, "Have you seen him?" told me something was wrong. He proceeded to pull out his phone and show me a picture of a guy in a restaurant with a gun...obviously from a security camera. Evidently, it's one of the main news stories.
My stomach dropped.
I've always had this fear that I would be watching the news and they would flash a picture of one of the kids/young adults I know. It's right up there with my fear of hitting someone on a motorcycle.
I can't say that it's a complete and total surprise. Though the guys are always extremely respectful around me, I've heard stories about people "hittin' licks" (robbing places) and making out pretty good. But though it's not necessarily surprising, it's still depressing. Reality is hard to face.
I'm sad this evening. Sad for my friend. Sad for a lost dream. Sad for my community who is watching yet another of our close-knit community on the run from the police. It will only be a matter of time before he is caught.
I am also sad because it makes me think of the potential path of the kids in the After-School Academy. I am sad because they can't see how quickly their lives can turn at a wrong decision...a simple decision to hang out with the wrong people even just for one night. I am sad because I know that Billy, Tyree, Sammy, Slick, and others have already chosen that path and it has resulted in death, jail, or being on the run from the police. I am sad for the families whose lives they affect.
I want to figure out why. Why does this become a lifestyle choice when they see so many others before them getting caught or killed?? I want to know what solution is.
I want to do everything I can to connect people with as many opportunities as possible so that they see so many more possibilities and options that they never feel like they need to carry a gun or rob people at gunpoint.
I don't want to lose anymore kids.