Chapter 22 The Dreamers
"I know that all that you have said, Fr. Spencer, has been heart-felt," I began, "but, I know that this IS where I'm supposed to be. My chance to work with kids in some way means a great deal to me. If this was the way God has intended to use me, so be it."
"I realize that I may be over matched in trying to save some small corner of the world. I have no degree in psychology or sociology. I've never worked in any kind of setting where behavior modification was the goal or concern, and in this situation you have so many issues working against you including some very negative business interests with drug trafficking and a powerful negative sphere of influence, I know it is going to be difficult, or someone else would have solved it by now," I state.
"I know this may seem over-whelming at first thought," added Fr. Spencer, "but I believe your tremendous athletic ability will be the ticket to acceptance in the black-top world most of these kids live in. It will be a challenge for you to fit in and for them to accept you, some or many may not, but we have to start by trying to save some of them, even one of them, at first. Every journey Jesus took began with that first step. This will be yours and mine. I promise to be with you every step of the way, “Father Spencer concluded.
"Father, I am most excited about this opportunity you have offered me. I don't expect it to be easy, but this is exactly the kind of challenge I have been looking for. This may be my chance to really make a difference somewhere, somehow. I hope it is. I have no delusions about my abilities or how difficult this task might be. It may be even better not to know how insurmountable it really is. If God has led YOU to this point, and the fact that I am even sitting here talking to you about it has moved the Holy Spirit in a remarkable way. I say let the pieces of this puzzle fall into place. I will be part of the way, not get in the way," I reply."
"That's great," beamed Fr. Spencer. "We will begin tomorrow with our first meeting with two of my associates and Sergeant Jenkins of the Metro Police Youth Division. He will give us an overview of the "projects" we intend to target first. These are rough neighborhoods Bob, nothing like what we are used to. Danger and the potential for trouble exist all the time. For many of these kids help is always too late where the police are involved. They can't help but arrive at the scene of the accident. I believe only we can be there BEFORE there is trouble. Sergeant Jenkins can be a big help to give us background on the "players" in the "hood", so to speak, and he can help us spot the preliminary signs of potential trouble."
Father Spencer continues. "Jenkins has photos of the "trouble makers" in the area that can help you be on guard a little more when you see them around, that sort of thing. He has also been given all the support he needs from the Mayor's Office to assist us in any way he can. The Mayor has been a big help up to this point and totally supportive. This plan has been kept under wraps for the most part up to this point. We don't need a nosey Press blowing any chance we may have for success just for them to get some scoop or story line. These problems are beyond hype and who gets credit. It is time for someone to start coming up with some solutions not just fund another government program. Twenty-five plus years of that is enough."
Father Spencer rose from his chair behind the desk. I rise to meet him sensing that our meeting was over.
"Plan on meeting back here at 8am tomorrow morning and we'll walk over to the meeting together," Said Fr. Spencer as we moved toward the office door. "Another student, Ben Murphy, is waiting outside to show you over to Miles Hall where you'll live. You should be very comfortable there. Good central location and probably the best food on campus. Ben will be graduating this year... one of the best students we have had. I don't want you to get the impression that I am prejudice or anything, just because he IS my nephew," beamed Father. You could sense there was great love and pride here.
In the reception area was this big strapping man, all 6 foot-five inches and easily 260 pounds. He could have passed for the late Dan Blocker from Bonanza fame. A big broad grin stretched across his face as he saw his "Uncle" Spencer. They hugged as Ben was nearly a foot taller then his "Uncle". This was going to take some getting-use-to, for sure.
Ben took me over to Miles Hall to get settled in. There was no problem with Ben able to carry more than his share of my bags into my assigned room. The room was much bigger than I could have hoped for. The room measured ten feet by 16 feet and was nicely appointed with walnut furniture, single bed with a bookcase built into the headboard, a large 7 drawer desk and two large leather overstuffed chairs. A refrigerator was tucked into the corner along with a small apartment-size electric range. A round 48 inch pedestal table was centered among 4 chairs. A small sink was found to the left of the stove. Little did I know that the most useful of these items were going to be the "frig" and the bed. I was going to be much to busy to think of entertaining, let alone do any.