Those We Touch

By Edd J. Hayes

As a designated “hoops dad,” I found myself chauffeuring my teenage daughter and a few of her friends to games and practices. They became like my own and I would constantly be in their heads…talking basketball and the importance of making good grades, and the value of looking forward to going to college.
(It was amazing to watch my daughter who went from a dainty little girl to someone who idolized Charles Oakley and tried to imitate his rugged domination around the rim.  She played on a Truman High School team that went 16-2 in her senior year and even made the City playoffs, but was no match for the bigger and more talented teams around the city).
Only one of them- the “big” center (she was only 5-10) had any real potential to garner a scholarship at the next level, so I felt it was important to encourage them to be academically prepared to get into a school. It may have seemed my rants went right over their heads.

In the end, a number of them did make the transition to the next level with the help of their parents and guidance counselors.
There was one girl who I would drop off after practice, who was a really decent player I thought, but seemed quite distant and not focused. But, I kept encouraging her, trying to draw her out but it didn’t seem to register. Little did I know (until my daughter shared her dilemma with me) how unstable things were for her at home. It seems she had been abandoned by her mother and was being cared for by her elderly grandmother, who had meager resources and little knowledge about helping her to carve out a career path for herself. 

After graduation, my daughter went on to Hampton University and we lost contact with the young lady.  A few years later, after graduation, my daughter came home for the Christmas holidays and told me her old classmate had contacted her on FaceBook. She asked how I was doing and told her to “thank me.”
Curiously, I asked why she was thanking me. She revealed how I had inspired her to attend college and now she was in dental school!
I couldn’t have felt more proud at that moment as if she was one of my own..
In fact, she was one of my own! I know now what it means to be a part of a village. My only regret was I didn’t reach out to more of them.
And… maybe I did.
This is the passion we all can share if we realize the value of trying to make a difference to those who may not have the support and resources to help them achieve their potential.
I firmly believe that investing in someone else’s child and expecting nothing in return is just as rewarding taking care of your own. They deserve the chance and can use our help to prepare for live itself. There are hundreds of men and women who spend their time in gyms and centers who can testify to that.
Black colleges need our help too!
In these times of limited resources and other challenges, we need to stand firm in our support of HBCUs!
In the spirit of giving, we can bind together to help solidify the future for others and perhaps put them in the best position to succeed.

What’s your opinion?

“I firmly believe that investing in someone else’s child and expecting nothing in return is just as rewarding as taking care of
your own”

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