Thursday, April 30, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 6: Green Kids

Brian, Danny, Markeitha and Franco all started DinoMights through Learn 2 Skate. Today they came to help teach the first graders

The half-way point of Learn 2 Skate has arrived! Each school has had three skating lessons, and each has three left. There has been a lot of improvement. One girl stands out in my mind. On the first day she was crying from fear. She was pretty worried while holding onto the wall, but with each step away from the wall, she just could not control the emotions. It is not that she couldn't do it, it's just that she was afraid. Today, she had huge smiles on her face. She was the head of the pack the whole time saying, "Look at me!"

Maybe she will become a full year round DinoMight after Learn 2 Skate is over. We have been doing this project with Richard Green Central School for about 10 years. At the current time we have about 25 Green students in our year round program.

Today four students, who all began their DinoMights careers in Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate, came from Green to volunteer with the first graders.

Brian, Danny, Markeitha and Franco were all first graders at Green School. They rode the bus to the arena just like the first graders did today. They were probably a bit scared and also really excited. After it was all over the DinoMights staff visited their homes to tell their families about the program. They said yes. Then we fitted them with hockey equipment in the front yard!

The remarkable thing about these volunteers is that they all also have siblings who have been or are in Learn 2 Skate too. Brian's sister Charlin was in Learn 2 Skate 2 years ago, and she has also joined DinoMights. This year we have Danny's cousin (they call each other brothers sometimes because they live together), Markeitha's brother Pierre (Pierre is already in DinoMights. He is wowing his classmates having already learned how to skate.), and Franco's sister all in Learn 2 Skate as first graders.

So the cycle will continue. In a few years the cousins, brothers, and sisters will be the ones coming to serve and to bless a new generation of future Dinos!

Franco's sister Jennifer with Phillips Foundation volunteers

Pierre (far left) with older sister Markeitha (far right) at Learn 2 Skate with Phillips Foundation volunteer

Danny's Cousin Alex (left) with Phillips Foundation volunteer

P.S. Don't forget to vote in the poll!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I want to know Wednesday

For the last few Wednesdays on the DinoMights blog I've been asking a series of questions about things that I want to know--some serious things, some not so serious. We call it, "I want to know Wednesday." So I have a few things I want to know today. If you know the answer or you have things you want to know too, post your Questions and Answers on the comments.

1) I still want to know who to root for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One of my teams, The Sharks, are out. Shocking! However, the Canucks and Willie Mitchell are still in. I am still rooting for Willie to get his chance to raise the Cup. On the other hand, there really are a lot of likable teams left. In addition to Vancouver, Chicago, Boston and Washington have not won the championship in my lifetime. I enjoy the "youth movement" in Pittsburgh and the DinoMights got to skate at Joe Louis Arena home of the Detroit Red Wings last winter.

Sandy and Layana pose under the banners in Joe Louis Arena, home of the defending Stanley Cup Champs, Detroit Red Wings

So I can be happy for almost any of the teams left. The only team I'm not rooting for is the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Originally the Mighty Ducks were a diverse bunch of rag tag kids playing hockey in South Minneapolis with Emilio Estevez as their coach. They played at Powderhorn Park and Eliot Park in the Phillips neighborhood (neither of which even have hockey rinks anymore); they played at Augsburg Arena and Parade Ice Gardens too. They had to overcome great odds and socio-economic challenges to become the PeeWee champs. Sound familiar? Then they took our idea, moved it to Southern California (where there are no outdoor rinks as well), changed the team colors, knocked out the Wild in the first round two years ago and now they beat the Sharks, whom I had previously decided to cheer for this year.
(No offense to any Ducks fans. I'm just having fun with the playoffs).

At any rate, if you have suggestions for which team should have my loyalties going forward leave your comments, and if you are an NHL fan let me know who you are supporting on this weeks new Poll.

2) I want to know why people in Minnesota say, "I don't know why I live here," in the middle of the winter.

I know why I live here when it comes to the weather. For example, yesterday the temperature was in the mid 60's Farenheit most of the day, and the sun was shining. Here's what's great about weather like that: you can do whatever you want!
a) Clothes: You can wear warm clothes or cool clothes. You can wear your short sleeve DinoMights shirt or your long sleeve DinoMights shirt. You can actually wear your DinoMights hooded sweatshirt AND Shorts at the same time.
b) Activities: You can go out and enjoy the weather or you can stay in if you feel it is too cold. For example, you can be inside an ice rink teaching first graders to ice skate and not feel bad that you weren't outside. Then in the same day you can play recreational Soft Ball outside with fellow DinoMights volunteers, alumni, and parents (Kelsey, Rich, Leah, Al, Cindy and John). Not to mention current DinoMight fan base of Gabby and Tekle.
c) Food: When it is as nice as it was yesterday you can cook comfort food in the Crock Pot or you can cook outside over a fire wearing your DinoMights hooded sweatshirt and shorts.

If anything it is too hot here. We're supposed to be closer to the North Pole than the equator, it should be cold. It gets just as hot here in the summer as it does in Anaheim, California where there are absolutely no outdoor rinks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 5: Champ

There is one boy in the Andersen group that has Cerebral Palsy. He has been a total champ out there. He actually doesn't have full control of his motor functions. CP is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain. The term CP can refer to a wide variety of issues, but for this boy it means that he doesn't have full control of all the muscles on his right side.

Think about how hard it must be to be 6 years old with CP. Now think about how hard it would be to be 6 years old, have CP, and ice skate. He could choose not to do this. No one would question it.

He might fall a lot (and he does).

It might be hard to get up once he falls (and it's hard).

It might be discouraging (and it is).

But, he's still doing it. In fact, he is doing it about as well as many of the other kids.

Today this boy was discouraged. It was really hard to get up after falling today. He seemed to be on the ice a lot. I kept saying, "O.K. get up," but it is just not that easy. So here is what I want to say to this Andersen First Grader. This is what I hope he knows deep in his heart.

"The whole purpose of Learn 2 Skate is summed up YOU! 150 First graders are all trying something that they would have never imagined they could do. It is scary to many of them, but You have shown courage! Don't give up and don't be ashamed when you fall. Finding out that you can do something that is hard or scary is the real reason we are here, and you might fall while you are doing that. Yes, we are learning to skate, but we are learning to be people first and foremost. We are learning from you, keep up the good work!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Volunteer Party

DinoMights held its volunteer appreciation party this past weekend. We had a great time. We spend so much time serving the kids together, that we really do get to be close. On the other hand, we don't get a lot of time to just be together as adults. So these occasions are really special. I'm adding a poll to the blog this week on whether or not we should try to do some kind of mid-season volunteer get together next year. Let us know what you think. If you aren't a volunteer, but you read the blog you can still vote. Just vote how you would if you were a volunteer. Below are some highlights of the party.

We cooked Bison Burgers and Bison Dogs. They were a big hit. Here are some comments about the food:

"This is the best hot dog I've ever had."
"I'm never buying beef again!" (Because Bison is just sooo good)

Bison is very lean and no one has ever gotten sick from eating undercooked Bison. Also, it has a lot of environmental benefits. It is local and organic.

A big thanks to the North American Bison Cooperative and TenderBison for donating the food!

We had a lot of fun at the home of Ken and Carol Engelhart. Here we are in the backyard playing beanbag toss.

Leah, Rich, and Kevin have been Mites coaches for a long time. Rich and Leah completed their seventh season, and Kevin completed 5. The four of us all went to Gustavus Adolphus College. We met as a part of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). It is pretty special to be serving together after so many years.

Adults can have fun too. Here we are at the volunteer party playing Nintendo Wii Tennis. The Wii was courtesy of volunteer Brian. Thanks Brian!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Value of a Volunteer


A few weeks ago, I wrote about a some of the grants that DinoMights was submitting. I asked people to pray that God would be a good provider for DinoMights. Well I'm glad to say that a very important grant came through today! Thanks for praying!


Tomorrow is our volunteer appreciation party. The three of us on staff went out shopping for the party. What a fun time. It is going to be a great party. We are going to have Bison Burgers, veggies, fruit, chips and homemade guacamole.

When you think about volunteers and what they give it is worth about twice as much as the biggest grant that we get in a year. If we were to pay our volunteers $10 per hour, just for the school year, it would equal almost $40,000 . . . and when the year is finished it only costs us a Bar-B-Que. That is a pretty generous gift from our volunteers!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 4: J

A boy was making his way all the way across the ice for the first time today at Learn 2 Skate, and said out loud, but not to anyone, "This is awesome!" I heard him say it, and that was awesome for me.

The other memorable quote by a Learn 2 Skate participant today was from a boy trying to explain that he had been sweating. "My hair is wet. Hey," he said to me, "My hair is wet. Touch my hair."

I declined.


One of the volunteers from the Kelly Phillips Foundation today was J. Lindsay. J was a DinoMights coach in the very earliest years of the organization. He's truly been the definition of long term relationships through DinoMights. Many of the original kids that he coached in the 90's are still in touch with J.

There are a lot of people coming to Learn 2 Skate as volunteers through the Phillips Foundation that are hearing about DinoMights for the first time. They all seem very interested. I've been telling them the stories as best I can, but J told some very cool stories that I didn't even know today. I think that hearing about DinoMights from a friend is much more powerful than hearing it from someone you just met. I personally want to thank J for asking about how things are going for me and the Harman family too.

J was there today with his daughter Shay. How cool that he and his daughter were serving together representing so many good causes. Serving a program that he helped build, Serving the legacy of Kelly Phillips, and all while strengthening the father daughter bond.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I want to know Wednesday

And now for another installment of "I want to know Wednesday".

Today this blog was officially linked on the NHL website! We are listed under the blogs tab on the Hockey is for Everyone page. That's big news for our humble blog here in Minneapolis. If you linked from the NHL website or you are a fellow Hockey is For Everyone Director, I welcome you to the DinoMights blog.

On Wednesdays I have begun asking questions about things I want to know. If you know, have things you want to know, or you can relate to the things I want to know feel free to leave a comment.

1) I want to know who to root for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Our hometown team, the Minnesota Wild missed the playoffs by just two points. However, the playoffs are still a lot of fun. Here's what I'm thinking. My uncle is a Sharks fan so I kind of like them. I kind of like the Vancouver Canucks, despite their rivalry with the Wild. My reason for liking the Canucks is that they have former Wild player Willie Mitchell, who was a very good friend of DinoMights when he played here. It would be cool to see Willie raise the Cup.

Willie Mitchell, formerly of the Minnesota Wild, currently of the Vancouver Canucks, with DinoMights Aaron, Jesse, Maurice, Mari and Jatessa

2) I want to know what it is like to lift the Stanley Cup in victory.
Alas, if I were an NHL player at my age I'd be trying for my last big contract to get me to retirement. Since I am not already at that stage, I will most certainly not achieve this for myself. If you are reading this and you have actually won the Stanley Cup Championship, I would love to hear your story. DinoMights is inviting the Cup to our annual fundraiser which will take place either November 9 or 16 (Stay Tuned for more details). I doubt I'll get to lift it up over my head even if it is at our event, but at least I'll know if I pulled for the right team this year!

Jesse and dad, Jeff with the Stanley Cup at the Hockey in the Hood Tournament, Detroit, MI

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 3: The Lo Family

Peter and Allan Lo help first graders from Andersen Elementary at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate

Today Andersen Elementary's first graders came out to the rink for the second time. They seem like they've been doing it for years. It is going so smoothly. I want to say that I am very thankful for the Lo family for their great help on Tuesdays.

When I first came on staff as an intern in the summer of 2001 I lived in the "4-Plex" with John Foley, the original director. Across the alley from us was the home of the Lo family. There were 13 kids in the family and 11 played for DinoMights. I remember that there was always a Lo somewhere nearby. They often would come and knock on the door looking for something to do. I also remember that they had a reputation for being very good at hockey.

Allan and Schiffer Lo played on the first ever DinoMights team I coached. While kids in fourth and fifth grade like to brag about how many goals they have scored, Schiffer quietly led the team in goals.

About a year later the family moved to California. It was actually really sad. They had a lot of friends in DinoMights. I especially remember the story of Amy saying goodbye to her friend and neighbor, Vilayphone (pronounced: Vil-a-pon). Both girls were crying.

Well, the Lo family has come back into the DinoMights family in a big way. The parents ended up in Iowa living on a farm. The older siblings have made their way back to the twin cities. I was walking in the neighborhood one day this winter. Peter Lo was driving by John Foley's house, but John wasn't home. We got to talking and I invited him to come to alumni (in the winter we have pickup hockey for our past and present coaches, and high school and older players. We call it "alumni".). So the oldest boys started coming to alumni.

A few of them have started going to John Foley's church too. On Easter John challenged the congregation that our response to the resurrection should be to serve. So Side Lo came to me to volunteer for Learn 2 Skate. Little did I know, he was volunteering his brothers too. So far 6 different Lo brothers have come to help out at Learn 2 Skate. It wouldn't be going as well as it is without them. Moreover, I think it is even more special that this family that grew up having DinoMights as such an important part of their lives, is sharing that experience with the today's neighborhood kids.

Today Shiffer said, "You don't remember me do you."

How could I forget! But I do have to admit, I'm getting to know these boys all over again, only this time as young men.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Follower Challenge
Thanks for the great support on our follower challenge! Welcome to our new Google Connect blog members. We helped raise $75 for DinoMights, just by reading the stories of "Hockey in the Hood." That went so well, I think we should do it again sometime.

Tutoring Wrap Up
This week we will be continuing Learn 2 Skate. We are also beginning our Spring Technology classes. This is a part of Academic Excellence at DinoMights (See Mission Statement: Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual Excellence).

Our kids and their tutors can become very close. When the year finishes, it can be hard for the kids (and the mentors too!). How should I put it? Well, they miss each other when they don't have an appointed time each week to be together. Many of them will keep in touch over the summer, and many of them will be together next year. So it is important for us to celebrate the good work and strong relationships built over the school year.

This year we celebrated tutoring with educational trip to the zoo and a party for tutors and students. Thanks tutors. Your kids love you and think you are the best adult friends they have!

Here's some pictures from the year end tutoring events.

Salma gives Emily a Piggy Back on the Northern Trail

Zoo sillines

Kelsy and Jakobe

Pierre and Steven

Fred and Rafa

Francisco and Brian

Friday, April 17, 2009

Please Follow this Blog!

When I started this blog a few weeks ago, I said that I would commit to posting every day for 40 weekdays. This will be the 23rd post without missing a weekday! I think we will try to keep it going after the 40 days are up, because this has been such a great thing for telling about DinoMights.

It has been a lot of fun, and it is a great way to tell the DinoMights story. Thanks for reading and for your interest in "Hockey in the Hood."

We have a special challenge for all of you that have been regularly reading this blog. An anonymous donor, who loves the blog, has decided that he will donate $5 to DinoMights for every new "follower" of for up to 60 new followers.

All you have to do is click the "Follow" button that you see on the right side of the screen. You will be taken to a screen where you can sign in, and then choose to follow the blog. After you become a follower, you can choose to invite friends via facebook, myspace, etc. to check out the blogs you follow if you like.

There are already 5 followers. So the donor is starting out at $25. If no new people become "followers" he will give $25-no sweat. However, if 60 people become followers this donor is willing to give up to $300! The window of opportunity for this gift will end on Monday afternoon.

So get on board and help raise a little money for DinoMights. Tell your friends about it too. You can check and see anytime how close we are to the goal. There is really no risk involved in becoming a follower of a blog. It is sort of like joining a Facebook group. When you sign in using a google id or other relevant id, you will get updates on the blogs you follow. Also, other people will be able to see that you follow this blog. Of course, if they see that you think it is cool, then your friends will want to read this blog as well. Which means that even more people will hear about DinoMights!

You can follow a blog anonymously, however the catch to this challenge is that we wouldn't know that you are following the blog and wouldn't be able to count it toward the donation.

How fun for Fun Friday! I can't wait to see what happens.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate: Day 2

I've just got to tell this story. Learn 2 Skate is going so well. I have to admit, I wasn't sure how it would feel to do Learn 2 Skate with two schools.

"Would it be too much work,"
"Could we keep all the details together for two schools?"
"Will the new school actually like this for their first graders."

In the end I reasoned that this was the time to go for it. God would provide for all the details. He had already provided for the new relationship with a new school, and Greg Carroll's friends and family were behind it.

Well I am very thankful to say that God has provided in every way. I wrote on Tuesday about the Lo family coming out of the woodwork to help out. Today it was the Kelly Phillips
Foundation. We had about a dozen helpers today from the foundation. They dug right in, tied skates, handed out helmets, encouraged kids, and gave out lots of smiles.
Ivan with his tutor Dan Phillips

So Thank you Kelly Phillips Foundation for your generous service to DinoMights and the first graders of Green Central School. Thank you Lord for providing wonderful people who have no other motivation, but to serve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I want to know Wednesday

I am declaring today to be "I want to know Wednesday."

Here's some things that I want to know. If you have some things that you want to know or you can relate to my "wants" let me know on the comments.

1) I want to know what I would do without my wife, Kari, who gives me so many good ideas about DinoMights, and who helps me to get to bed on time for the busy day tomorrow. (This is the Dino blog so I am only referring to DinoMights issues here. Actually, there are many many more reasons that Kari really helps me as a person, not just as a non-profit director.)

2) I want to know what I would do as a director without Eric and Leah, our Program Assitants. They do and are doing amazing work. If I have to miss something for an illness or an emergency, they always do a great job holding up the fort. It reminds me that we are a team!

3) I want to know what would Learn 2 Skate have been like if the Lo family hadn't shown up to help. I really believe that God had something to do with 4 of the Lo brothers helping out. We needed more help yesterday, and Eric and I prayed about it. "LO" and behold there they were.

4) I want to know what it is like to be as generous as the people associated with the Kelly Phillips Foundation who are coming to help with Learn 2 Skate tomorrow. They commited to sending 4 or 5 volunteers per week, and tomorrow I think there will be 10! We are going to get those skates tied FAST tomorrow! (Stay tuned . . . The partnership between the Kelly Phillips Foundation and DinoMights is a very touching story. Another thing I think that God himself is putting together. I plan to tell more of this story as we go along.)

5) I want to know what Greg Carroll thinks about the fact that the DinoMights event named in his honor is serving twice as many kids this Spring. Learn 2 Skate is officially called Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate in honor of Greg Carroll our longtime coach who passed away in September of 2007.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the Locker Room to the Ice

Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate: Day 1

Day 1 of Learn 2 Skate went very well! Often the first day is kind of chaotic, but not today. I think it was a combination of good planning, good communication with the schools, and lots of great helpers. At church on Sunday, John Foley, the founder of DinoMights was saying that our response to Easter ought to be service to others. He went on to say that if you were looking for an opportunity DinoMights Learn 2 Skate was starting this week. We ended up with three people saying they would help today (including John himself. Don't you just love it when people practice what they preach!) One of the new volunteers, Side who was an original DinoMight back in 1995, ended up bringing three of his brothers too. So we had plenty of good help to get the skates tied and to give lots of tender care and encouragement on the ice.

There is a lot of work that goes into this effort. All the equipment needs to be inventoried, managed, and packed before we can go. Program Assistant Eric Unger along with Andy, our new friend from Hamline University did an amazing job getting us from the Locker Room to the Ice.

Pictured here is a bit of the journey of the equipment before we actually get skating. We start out at "the 4-Plex" our storage facility. Then we get everything packed and into bags or boxes. It is loaded into the DinoMights vans and transported to Augsburg Arena. When we get to the arena we arrange the equipment in a very orderly way so that the students can get fitted as quickly as possible. When the kids come we have a very specific process for getting equipment, and before you know it they are on the ice giving it a shot.
A lot of the kids are afraid to even let go of the boards the first time, but most of them are venturing out at least a little bit by the end of the session. I love it when the kids have only been on the ice for 30 minutes in their whole lives and they will proudly proclaim to me, "I can skate!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate

Tomorrow will be the first day of Learn 2 Skate for 2009. We are very excited to keep you updated on this year's learn to skate for several reasons.

1) Learn 2 Skate is an awesome example of collaboration between local organizations. In this case between DinoMights and two local public schools.
2) We get to meet 150 new neighborhood kids, some of whom will become year round participants in the program.

3) We get to honor the legacy of Greg Carroll, our longtime coach and friend who passed away September 2007.

4) We also get to honor the legacy of Kelly Phillips, a varsity player for Minnetonka High School, who also tragically passed away just a day apart from Greg.

So enjoy these pictures of year round DinoMights who entered the program through the Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate collaboration.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Marian Gaborik's Last Wild Home Game?

First of all, we have a winner in the Funny Caption Contest. All the entries were very funny! We will definitely do that again. Here's the winner

"And you think you have trouble finding pads that fit!" by Robert

Congrats! Email me ( with your address to claim your prize.

My Gaborik Story
Sometimes being the director of DinoMights gives me the opportunity to some pretty interesting things and meet some very well known people.

Marian Gaborik is a professional hockey player for the Minnesota Wild. He was the team's first ever number one pick, and the only original member of the Wild still on the team.

In January of 2008, my wife and I were guests of the NHL to the All-Star Game in Atlanta, GA. We were there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Willie O'Ree breaking the color barrier in the NHL. As guests we got to go to the NHL Skills Competition and the All-Star Game itself. Of course, we had a great time and cheered the loudest for the Minnesota Wild representative in the game, Marian Gaborik. He had some of the best break-away moves in the skills competition and he scored a couple of goals in the game. We were pretty excited for our hometown guy.

At the airport check-in we noticed an athletic looking young man checking a bag of hockey equipment. "That's Marian Gaborik!!!" we said to each other with the glee of young children seeing their sports hero in person, "And he is on our plane!!!"

Marian laid low. He didn't hang around the gate for everyone to see him. However, Lou Nanne, Minnesota hockey legend, was hanging around the gate. He was talking to someone about Gaborik. I actually had the courage to introduce myself to Lou Nanne. Anyway, we boarded the plane and Gaborik was the last person to board. I saw him in First Class shaking Lou Nanne's hand, presumably exchanging kind words about the All-Star Weekend.

We were totally giddy. We tried not to be the ones that say out loud "Gaborik is on this plane." In fact, I didn't hear anyone say it. Maybe no one else realized that was him.

Back in Minneapolis, waiting for our bags, there he was; just hanging around in baggage claim. "That's Gaborik," everyone was whispering to each other. Finally someone broke the ice. A five or six year old boy ran up to the fan favorite and said with stars in his eyes, "GABORIK!" Really it's what we all wanted to do, but we're not children so we couldn't do it. Gabby patted the young lad on the head and signed an autograph for him. The reserved Minnesotans didn't bother the star for anything else, we just thought it was cool that he was on our plane.

Well, there are all kinds of speculations that Gaborik, a free agent, will not be with the Wild next season. So tonight could actually be his last home game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Anyway, I'm going to watch the game tonight, and hope he scores some goals, and just like a little kid I'll remember my moment with a super star at the baggage claim of MSP . . . even if it is his last game for the Wild.

If you have any stories of meeting a sports hero, I'd love to hear them on the comments.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Funny Caption Contest 2

This photo was just made for a funny caption contest!

So here's the contest: Give this photo a funny caption and leave your idea on the comments to this post. What is this kid thinking or what is a funny line that goes along with the picture? For example,

"Fee Fi Fo Fum!"
"I'm squishing your head!"
"Am I getting smaller or is the room getting bigger."

Seriously, this picture was just made for a contest like this! The panel of judges will confer and choose a winner tomorrow. I have a prize for the winner. It is a State of Hockey Great Goalies coffee mug. You may not be a coffee drinker, but play for the love of the game anyway!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Comeback Stories

Probably one of the hardest things about working for DinoMights (perhaps one of the hardest things about being an urban American youthworker) is when families move. Now we have families that move every year or even a few times a year within the neighborhood. Usually we can keep track of that. However, sometimes we have a family move far enough away that we lose track of them.

Probably one of the best things about working for DinoMights (perhaps one of the best things about being an urban youthworker) is when they come back!

Mary, Arie, Maisee and Jim were siblings that were very involved in DinoMights. They moved around the neighborhood a bit. Then they moved to St. Paul. They were able to do all the summer activities that year (largely due to a wonderful volunteer named Jeremiah, who was Jim's tutor). When the school year started we lost track of them.

My last image of this family was of Jim, who was a fifth grader at the time, after Honey Rock Camp. I'll never forget the emotion he showed in the church parking lot when we got home. Feelings of joy from a great week at camp all wrapped up together with feelings of sadness that it was over. But it seemed like more than that.

I guess to me, it seemed like he sensed something was coming to an end. Not just camp, but DinoMights, friendships; I don't really know what exactly, but something profound. It was haunting to me in a way. Because the next thing you know, even though they thought they would move back to the neighborhood, the phone number doesn't work anymore. They don't live at the same address anymore. Most likely they were still nearby, but as far as we knew they were just gone.

Katie, the youthworker at Park Ave. Church got an email this week:

Hello, it is Maisee
I don't know if you remember, but yeah.
I live in Huron, South Dakota now and
I've been busy with school so
haven't got anytime to e-mail.
I just wanna to know how you are doing?

Katie told me that she had heard from Maisee. So she forwarded me the message. I wrote to Maisee too. She wrote back.

well ya I still remember all of you guys.
I miss all of you so much.
It's been so long!
Yes, I remember your wife Kari and I remember KAA..
us having so much fun.
I am 14 years old, and I'm turning 15 this Sunday.
I'm in the 9th grade soon to be in the 10th.
I'll tell my family you guys say hi,
and i'll stay in touch..

The truth is this: We aren't "the answer." Not every kid that is ever a part of DinoMights is a monumental success story. That isn't even what it is all about. It is about loving kids, loving a city and loving a neighborhood. The longer I do this the more I come to appreciate the small moments like this one. Maisee and her family were only in DinoMights a short time. The impact of the love Maisee and her family experienced in DinoMights, Park Ave, and other organizations is strong enough for her to track down emails three years later just to say, "hi, we're fine, and we miss you all."