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Lessons and Anniversaries

Editor’s note:  Hope in Handball, a program hosted by the East Shore YMCA, pairs at-risk kids in Harrisburg with adult mentors.  The program teaches the kids a new sport and sometimes, life skills.  It celebrates its anniversary today.

Last week, I ran into a young friend, one of the original six kids to participate in Hope in Handball.  I bump into him periodically and we catch up.

He wasn’t exactly upbeat. “These streets just keep calling me Mr. Dave.”   I invited him back to play handball.  Sure enough, one Tuesday night, he showed up and played some doubles and some singles.  He was smiling.

He could tell he hadn’t played in a while.  “Man, I don’t know the last time I actually moved my body this much and actually had this much fun.” he said.  “I really miss handball,” he confessed, and then asked if he could return tomorrow and bring a friend.

He’s working on his GED and he’s looking for a job.   We just grabbed some pizza and talked a while. “I really want to stay with you guys. I need to be around more positive people,” he said.  Then he paused and added   “Cause this might be my last hope.”  You could all but see the light bulb appear over his head.  “Oh, I guess that why y’all call it Hope in Handball, huh?”

While I am typing this, he actually just texted me: “thanks, I really needed this  I’m glad I came today.  Can’t move my arms lol.  My mom says Hi and thank u”.

It was just one of those rewarding breakthrough days and a great anniversary present.

Thanks to the East Shore Y, and to all the mentors for their continued support.

Submitted by David Botero

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