Gang violence is a huge problem in my neighborhood. Every summer, I steel myself for the reports of kids shooting one another in the fray between the various warring factions. For a city that has one of the densest concentrations of non-profit organizations in CT, it’s nuts that New Haven has almost nothing for teens. But this summer, a local church gave them something great to do with their free time… and mine.
St. Andrews is a small congregation that’s located right at the heart of “The Ville,” one of the tougher parts of town. 2005 was a terrible year for gang violence here, and the church deeply felt the weight of the grief. With their pastor, who also works full-time as a teacher in one of the public schools, they started a support group for kids affected by violence. And they started praying. Your Place, the name of the teen center they started this summer, grew out of these years of prayer.
My church (Elm City Vineyard) had been praying about teens and the violence in town too. When St. Andrews asked us to partner with them, something resonated with us; it seemed like a God-given match. So that’s how I got hooked up.
Here’s the basketball group. (I think my brother fell off his chair laughing when I told him that I helped to start this.) No, thank God, I don’t play… but the teens are incredible! S, the guy in the baseball cap, moves like quicksilver and handles the ball as if it’s as easy as breathing. Our ECV guys aren’t too shabby either. Ethan (the guy on the far right) can really shoot!
Someone snapped a picture of me and my mentee, a gal with a wry sense of humor beneath her quiet exterior and a passion for writing and music.
As we found out more about one another, we were both surprised at the instant connection. Who knew two people from such different worlds could have so much in common?
By the way, if you’re local and are interested in getting involved, feel free to contact me!