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."

No comments: