All my life I’ve heard of the House of Grace as an organization that welcomes all with open arms. The ideals, dedication, and values inspired me and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I first started working here 12 years ago as a football trainer and last year I started coordinating for the afterschool program, in which I work with at-risk youth. I assist them in their studies as well as coordinate the after-school activities. Throughout my experiences, I have found that each boy or girl has their own personal story. At the House of Grace, I have seen many children grow while learning valuable lessons and that every child that comes to us impacts me as well. One of these profound experiences made a lasting impression on me and particularly stands out in my memory.
A young boy would come to the house every day after school. His face would light up after he finished his homework because he knew he would be able to play football afterward. He would get so excited to come to football practice and he worked the hardest out of all the kids. However, no matter how hard he tried he would always become discouraged and fall behind. You could see the disappointment on his face. The young man had vision problems and this affected how well he could keep up with the rest of the children. When I saw him fall behind, it broke my heart, I wanted to do everything I could to help him keep up with the other kids. I figured that this circumstance would deter this child’s excitement and passion for football. Based on some negative experiences with young people who interact with other kids who have disabilities, I automatically assumed the children would respond as tormentors or just be dismissive toward the weaker child.
I was instead astounded by the sense of empathy and compassion expressed by this group of children. This showed me how the after-school program creates an encouraging and supportive atmosphere for all kids, not only through the staff but by the students as well. The environment that the House of Grace creates is so moving it makes everything I do much more meaningful. I cannot think of another place that allows children, no matter the circumstances to blossom, just as this child did. I believe that working here allows me to truly impact and change children’s lives in a way I could not do anywhere else. I know that this specific example may seem insignificant. Though my goal is not to create the next football, superstar but to motivate each child and teach them how to overcome adversity. When I see that I am able to help children or families, even in minute ways, it is still the most rewarding part of my job.