February 2, 2012 – The Source of Responsibility – by Joel Repic
Consider a seed. There is so much potential within it. But, of course, you would never expect that seed to thrive if it didn’t have the right temperature, sunlight, water, and soil in its environment. It needs these things to succeed. The problem with many of our young people today is not that some of them don’t have “what it takes” internally to grow into productive adulthood – as if some youth are just destined to utterly fail (a way I sometimes hear some people talk). The issue, rather, is that many young people across all racial and socioeconomic lines are lacking the ingredients in their environments that predicate healthy development – supportive relationships, rich opportunities, and hope (at Aliquippa Impact we call these “ingredients” the 40 Developmental Assets).
Just last night I was at a local pizza joint for a special celebration. One of our sixteen year old teenage guys in our Brotherhood Cohort reached an impressive goal – he secured teenage employment. This was a goal he had set some months earlier with his cohort leader. He then took all of the necessary steps – filling out an application, going to an interview, and completing his paperwork. And last night his cohort leaders and his peers joined him for a satisfying, greasy celebration of three large pizzas and unlimited re-fills of sodas. It was encouraging to see the sense of accomplishment on his face.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Aliquippa Impact accomplished this. No – he accomplished this. He had what it took within him, and we believed that from the beginning. He made the choice to follow through on his goal, and he evidenced the necessary responsibility to gain employment. So what did Aliquippa Impact do?
We helped him imagine a goal of employment. We spoke encouragement. We told him of a God that loved him and
valued him. We helped him keep going when he got discouraged. We provided support to him and his family. We took him to get the application. We showed him how to fill it out. We gave him a ride to the interview, and we were there to throw a pizza party to affirm his achievement. In short, we fostered hope.