There is little as gratifying as being a positive role-model to a kid. Today, I was asked to participate in the Gainesville Police Department's "HEROES" program, a summer program that targets at-risk youth, and enables them to engage in positive activities, and build healthy relationships with law enforcement. The program was specifically designed to give our local kids something fun and positive to do during the Summer months. The program is backed by a number of community partners, dedicated to enriching the lives of the young people in Gainesville, Florida. Since the HEROES program began in 2014, juvenile arrests during summer months has plummeted more than 63%. Today, we played Laser Tag, had lunch, and spent time mentoring nearly a dozen kids. The best part of these kinds of experiences is that WE learn as much as THEY do.
We often forget, ignore, or take for granted, that the kids in our community are growing up in an environment that fosters positive growth an encouragement. Not every kid enjoys a healthy home life. As a community, we are responsible for ensuring that every kid has an opportunity to grow. If you ever have a chance to volunteer for one of these organizations, I promise you, seeing the smile on the faces of those kids will make it all worth it. If you're in the Gainesville area, and would like to volunteer, please reach out to me, and I'll make sure you're connected with the appropriate leadership. If you're outside the Gainesville area, and would still like to make a contribution, please let me know that too.
It takes a village.