I came to Crossroads for Kids in 1999 along with many of my cousins. Back then it seemed like everyone wanted to be a gangster, including me. I got into fights, stayed out late, and ignored homework. All I wanted to do was play basketball and call it a day.
At first, Crossroads was all about having fun. I didn’t take the program seriously until I was older and I watched cousin after cousin drift away and get involved in bad things. I didn’t take it seriously until a flood destroyed my home and participating in Crossroads programs became more difficult. It’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
No matter the struggles in my personal life, Crossroads has been there for me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this organization. It’s taught me how to shed the tough guy image so I can be myself. Most kids come from a society where they are taunted for being themselves, but Crossroads for Kids gives them a chance to be who they want to be.
Crossroads for Kids has changed my vision for the future. Before, all I cared about was playing basketball. College wasn't at the forefront of my mind before Crossroads. However, the fact that the staff constantly talk about it helps motivate me in school.
My life is now more than basketball and hanging in my neighborhood. Today, I count the days to each teen weekend, community service project and college field trip. When we work with other organizations like Rebuilding Together, I am proud to represent Crossroads for Kids. Without Crossroads, I doubt I’d have these opportunities to give back to my community.
Participating in the staff-in-training Apprentice Program was eye-opening. I connected with a hyper-active six-year-old boy named Karlos. I smiled when he’d beg to take one more shot at the hoop before dinner or would cry from homesickness. I’d been in his shoes, which made being his mentor that much easier. I’ve got big shoes to fill if I want to make my own Crossroads for Kids role models proud, but I am up to the challenge.
Before I make a decision, I think about Crossroads. I would never want to jeopardize the relationships I have built here. The best part is that these staff members make an active effort to be in my life. They ask about school, basketball and my family.
I now understand why the Crossroads logo is a tree. The seed begins when you are young, and it grows over the years into the tree's trunk and branches. The branches and leaves are all of the opportunities and people that Crossroads has to offer. The tree never dies because the cycle of giving back never dies. I can't wait to plant the seeds for someone else.