Happy June. Hard to believe that we have made it here in such a short period of time.
I would like to welcome Luke Hommerding as a guest blogger. Luke is our Youth and Adult Director. He is energetic and a future leader of our movement. His passion for his program comes out in the blog below. I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Steve Smith, President
FROM LUKE’S DESK:
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to take the Y’s Reach & Rise® Group Mentoring Program participants to a Minnesota United Soccer game in Minneapolis. The kiddos in this program live right here in the Fargo/Moorhead area and belong to this mentoring group to better their progress in school and find success in their personal development. They meet once per week at the Y to participate in some fun activities, talk about everyday struggles, and learn from their mentors on how to approach the next challenge in life.
So here we are on this little bus in Fargo, North Dakota bound for TCF Bank Stadium to take in a day of fun together. As the bus driver, I was praying the tires were going to hold, the engine temp would stay low, and the oil pressure was right where it needed to be. Sometimes as a non-profit we wish we could take our kids for a ride in a Cadillac, but it’s just not in the cards. So we do the best with what we have.
I just have to say, this group of kids is so cool! We have some youth in this group from New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and even Nepal coming together to experience this YMCA mentoring program. We were the most diverse group of people at this soccer game and we rocked our Y shirts with pride! Best looking group, hands down!
Our kids and mentors got to enjoy the game with lots of action, loud fans, and aggressive play on the field. However, the true youth development took place on the bus…learning about the Mississippi River when we crossed over the bridge, which led to the “who knows about the Gulf of Mexico?” conversation. Then the mentors were educating the kids on the capital building in St. Paul. When we rolled through the University of Minnesota, the kids got to see that hard work in school can give them an opportunity to attend college someday, as well. We even had the opportunity to teach our kids proper etiquette while the national anthem played. One of our mentees even got to reunite with one of their former mentors from the program a few years ago, who now lives in St. Cloud and came down for the game.
It was a great experience. Worth every penny for the tickets, fuel, and snacks supported by our Partner of Youth Annual Campaign. I can’t believe how much a bunch of 10 year old boys can eat! It took up our whole Sunday and was one of the loudest rides of my life. Who knew “rock, paper, scissors” could get so intense? But once the bus pulled safely back into the parking lot at Schlossman, I knew it was a perfect day to show how we are truly here “for all” and this was a perfect day for our mission. The kids had a blast and that was our goal. Too bad the Minnesota United Loons couldn’t have scored one more goal to get the win!
So now I ask you: What is your soccer trip in life that you can take? Who can you mentor that needs a positive role model in life? I encourage you to be like these Reach & Rise mentees and mentors…get out of your comfort zone, hop on the bus, and enjoy the ride.
See you at the Y.
Luke Hommerding, Youth and Adult Program Director