'Bro, it's okay. We got you.'
Last week's Circle Group was moving as it always is. But a few things happened last week that offered a powerful reminder of how important community is for each one of our youth, and how a loving, safe and trustworthy space can make all the difference in their lives.
One youth talked about suicide. This new member talked about loading a handgun, later firing it twice in an attempt to end his life.
One young man wonders, "Am I good enough to change? I look back at who I used to be and it would be so easy to get sucked back in. When you don't have that alternative peer group, you don't have those people to remind you of who you are and who you're capable of becoming or to help you see clearly when you're down. Black men, you know, we're taught to be hard. No emotions. My pops, he tells me 'Be hard. Be hard. You're getting soft.' Now that I'm here, I'm done. I'm done biting my tongue, done keeping it all in. I cry now. There's this quote, it says "We accept the love we think we deserve." And the love here, in this room, in Project Legacy...this love is real. It's genuine. So that's why I keep coming back."
A young woman shared how she once attempted suicide. The day she was released from Generose she saw a Facebook page about Project Legacy and called us that evening. Now, it's four years later, and she attends two Circles a week and is in college studying social work with a degree in sight. She shared how different she feels from her family and her old friends...and how she's the only one to go to college, the only one to leave the streets behind, the only one in her family who doesn't use. And now, she experiences yet another difference – the difference of being the only person of color in her college classes, the only one 'from the ghetto.' She wonders, "Will I ever fit in anywhere?"
A young man starts to talk about being in prison, with a history of gang affiliation. He shares about his loneliness and struggles to remain sober, when he begins to cry, tears streaming down his face. Suddenly, from across the room, his new friend stands and comes to sit beside him. He takes his hand and says, "It's okay, Bro, it's okay. You're good. I know, I know. But we got you...." He holds him as he sits beside him. Long after the tears have stopped, he is still holding his hand.
This is what happens in Circle. The love here is real. It's genuine. In here, we've got you, no matter what.