I walk into an austere brick building in the middle of one of the poorest
and most isolated neighborhoods of Richmond, Upper Mosby Court.
The Mosby Management Office is home to our newest tutoring site, and though it is only a square room with cinder block walls and no decorations, we cherish it. For in this room are five new students, with hope for more to come (as of this past week we now have thirteen students at this site).
I turn to the Site Leader Lindsay Parks, “Lindsay, want me to go knock on a few more doors?” Lindsay agrees, so I step outside the back of the building into a field surrounded on all sides by identical apartment buildings.
I pause for a moment. “Lord, which house do you want me to go to?”
I turn to my left and see a sidewalk leading up to one of the apartments that has a light on. I feel drawn to that house.
As I get closer to the back door, I hear children’s voices inside the house. I knock on the door, and a woman appears. She looks at me with curiosity, so I quickly explain myself. “Hi, I work for a neighborhood after-school program, and we are doing tutoring in the office building. Are you interested in getting your kids involved?”
She replies, “Wow, we were just talking about how we wish there was a program closer to our home for our kids to be a part of!”
I respond with a smile as I point to the building just a few yards behind me, “Well, you can’t get much closer than this!”
I provide a little more explanation and then leave participation forms with the mother. I walk back to the building and tell Lindsay about the three kids that want to join. Lindsay looks at me and says, “You can just invite them to come now.” “Cool, that’s what I was thinking!”
So, I go back over to their house and knock on the door. The mother comes to the door, surrounded by her kids who are all looking at me intently. I let her know that her kids can come now if they like.
She turns to her kids, “Do y’all want to go?” They all cry out in unison, “Yeah!”
So, our troop returns to where Lindsay and the other kids are, and they jump right into the team building games. And just like that, there are three new students in CHAT!
We celebrate these new relationships, and these new opportunities for these young people who are so eager to do something positive with their time. And yet, at the same time, this does not come without struggle, for just the following week there was a shooting just fifty yards away from the tutoring location, while tutoring was in session. These realities hit our staff hard as we feel rebuffed every time we make an advance.
But we will not lose heart! And we ask for you to pray with us on this journey. Will you pray for the success of our new tutoring site in Mosby Court? Will you pray for this new partnership with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA)?
Will you pray for the safety of all the youth in our community, especially those in Mosby Court, which alone has experienced six murders in 2016?
These statistics and realities of our community can be depressing and discouraging, but our story also proves that there is life and hope bursting forth in the midst of darkness. Thank you for being a part of this new life, for we cannot do it alone. Thank you for caring about the youth in our community. We look forward to bringing you more stories of hope from Mosby and the rest of the East End of Richmond.