Sunday, October 05, 2008
Making a difference is popular these days.
Everyone seems to want to save the earth or travel into another country for a week to "change someone's lives." I can identify with that desire completely. Maybe you are like me and you have walked out of a movie theater after watching some actor save the day or the world and you have wanted desperately to do the same.
What is surprising is how complicated actually trying to make a difference really is. I was walking through a squatter's settlement here in Costa Rica the other day and thinking about how really making an impact in someone's life requires so much more than most of us are prepared to give. It doesn't happen in two hours and, most of the time, there is little to no popcorn. This kind of work requires a significant cost including faith & hope.
Helping people requires time, vulnerability, failure, repetition, consistency, patience, endurance and a tremendous amount of hope. To help someone else change always requires change in me first. Lasting change requires small almost unnoticeable movements that no one else applauds or celebrates in the beginning. It requires the faith to believe that you are investing your life well over a long period of time in which you will see little to no positive results and usually just the opposite.
Walking Together into Making a Lasting Difference
I am not writing any of this to discourage you but actually to encourage you. The truth is that the desire in our hearts to help make a difference is not only noble but necessary. We were made to love, to care and to live lives of consequence. One of the greatest benefits in this journey will be the growth accomplished in our own hearts as we transcend our individual needs and learn each day to serve and love better.
One of the reasons that Boy With a Ball exists as a not-for-profit youth, family and community development organization is to provide people like yourself with the opportunity to make a difference by walking with us as partners in our work. Many of you have built beautiful lives in your hometowns, accomplished great things in the business world and then invested portions of your earnings in our work to help street kids and teen prostitutes in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica or gang members in San Antonio, Texas. Thank you for your help and for you faith and hope in our work to reach and equip young people and their families to be leaders capable of making a difference. I could not do what I do on a daily basis without you doing what you do daily. Together we are making a difference that I very much believe will endure.
The Brand New Boy With a Ball Website (www.boywithaball.com)
With all of that in mind, we have spent much of the year working with Canadian Web Designer Glenn Horning (thanks Glenn) to redesign Boy With a Ball's website in a way that would allow you to stay up to date on a weekly basis with what is happening within Boy With a Ball's teams. Please take just a moment to check it out today and then pass through the site each week to stay in contact with those you are helping us reach! In it you will find news, tools, photos, video and much more to keep you in the loop including an update on information for the Next Conference which will be held January 1-4, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. Get in there and see how you like it all and fire us an email with tips and thoughts on how we can make it better.
Developing young people would seem to be the easiest sell in the world.
Who wouldn't want to help a child or adolescent become all that they were made to be? What parent wouldn't want to see their own child fulfill their potential? What school administrator or teacher wouldn't want the same for the young people they care for?
The list goes on...what government officials and workers, aunts & uncles, police officers, social workers, politicians, grandparents, pastors and priests, siblings or local merchants wouldn't want to see the young people in their community thrive? After all, these young people are the future of all that we are currently building and fighting for. They are our progenitors, our legacy. Why wouldn't their development be important to us?
When you add to the equation that young people's vulnerability and the negative forces within our societies are currently wreaking havoc on the next generation, the question becomes even more poignant. Why wouldn't we care to help those who are hurting?
Even more crucially, why would we allow the future to be attacked and disabled without fighting for them? Why would we stand by and let the future of our communities be shaped and discipled so strategically and destructively by the drug dealers, the internet predators, the media profiteers, gang leaders and even by poverty itself?
Martin Luther King Jr. used to frequent the Edmund Burke quote saying, "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
Finding the Answers
Perhaps the greatest reason that we are currently being defeated in the battle for developing young people is less our apathy and our indifference than our own fear and confusion. We just don't know what to do or how to do it. We feel weak and without the capacity to help.
What if we could change that? What if we could commit one to another to do the work, to join hands and to find the answers we need to win the most important battle any generation can possibly face: the fight for the generation who will come after them.
Our Part in the Fight
Boy With a Ball exists as a non-profit organization to help families, schools, churches, governments, neighborhoods and young people themselves find these answers and put them into action. Our belief is that we can transform our countries, one young person, one family, one neighborhood, one community and one city at a time.
Our work in San Jose, Costa Rica and in San Antonio, Texas is helping us develop a deeper and deeper understanding of exactly how young people and their families can be developed most effectively.
Recently, Boy With a Ball began a formal partnership with the Intel Corporation. This partnership is a living one that will continue to grow as we identify more and more ways that our two organizations can work together to help equip communities to see their young people overcome high risk behaviors and thrive. We are thrilled to see what will come of this synergistic endeavor.
One important aspect of this push to see young people across the globe transformed is to see people like yourself drawn into the work. Please contact us at email@example.com for ideas on how you can get involved within your own community or globally. I would like to thank all of you who have continued to invest in the young people Boy With a Ball is currently reaching and equipping through your continuous financial support. We could not do what we do without you.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Working in community development involves a whole lot of bridge building. First of all, you have to walk into a community and do the ethnographical work of getting to know the people, the place, the strengths and weaknessess, assets and threats. All of this builds a bridge of understanding that can provide a basis for what comes next. Second, you have to find a way to build a bridge into these people's lives. This involves finding a way to be allowed to be present.
Sometimes we try handing out suckers in areas full of children, providing tutoring where school dropout rates are high or handing out coffee and cookies in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica where the community is filled with sex workers, addicts and homeless individuals. In San Antonio, our teams head to the basketball courts all through the weeks.
The next bridge to build is one that allows deeper relationships to form. This bridge is made up of mutuality, empathy and trust. As this step occurs, mentoring and small groups are built to serve as bridges that allow us to equip and educate the community members to be leaders capable of turning around their own neighborhoods.
One final interesting connection to bridge is between the world at large and the community we are developing. This has taken us a while to "get" but nonetheless we are getting it.
With that in mind, please take a moment to head to our brand new web site at www.boywithaball.com. This exciting new tool is a bridge between you and those we are working with. In the future, they will need you. They will need your prayers, your resources, your friendship and your ideas if they are to see their communities transformed and developed.
This website will be updated weekly with new photos, videos, podcasts and more and will even include a Boy With a Ball store in weeks to come.
Go ahead and walk across this virtual bridge and get to know these amazing people.