Monday, July 12, 2010

Dreaming on Troost

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This was three decades before many of the kids who call Community LINC home were born, and five decades before some of them will enter adulthood. Dr. King’s dream was to see America treat its African-American citizens equal. His dream forges the dreams of kids at Community LINC. Maybe they do not realize it. Prior to the civil rights movement, African-American kids lived in a world where they were second class citizens and their educational and job opportunities were limited based upon the color of their skin. Fifty years after the civil rights movement, kids of all ethnicities and socio-economic statuses still dream. They dream of being mechanical engineers who design cars. They dream of owning their own businesses. They dream of being fashion designers who set the trends for a culture. They dream of being lawyers who make a difference in the justice system. They dream of becoming politicians who seek to make positive changes in laws. They dream of being people who are positive, productive, and self-sufficient citizens of a country that once enslaved their ancestors.

Dr. King’s speech challenged the unwritten laws of the land, and challenged the government to write new laws. More importantly his speech changed they way we think as a society. His speech and the movement for equality, which should have been granted all along, affords kids who live at Community LINC the opportunity to dream rather than succumb to predefined roles in our society based upon prejudices. Community LINC kids face the challenge of not always knowing what steps to take to make their dreams reality. Many times they lack the knowledge on how to secure resources for college, or connections with people who can guide them through the daunting process of making their dream a reality. It is helpful to talk them through the college application process. This gives them confidence when they step onto the campus to apply for college. Kids need to be mentored in the things adults sometimes take for granted: writing a résumé, how to behave during a job interview, how to navigate the halls of a college campus, how to cope with loss, or how to determine the Metro Bus routes. They also need to be mentored in attaining their dreams. Having a dream to be a biological scientist who desires to research medical cures is only one part of a large equation. Community LINC kids need to know what steps they must take to attain their personal goals. They need the encouragement, counsel, and advice of parents and adult mentors around them to assist them in realizing their dreams. You could be the one who helps them achieve their dreams.

Learn how to become a volunteer at Community LINC:

- Joel Paul, Community LINC houseparent

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