“My older brother LeRon has worked at the Wake County (North Carolina) Detention Center for several years. At one point he realized, ‘Man these kids don’t have anything to do – no role model to look up to.’
“He called me and asked me to talk with them. I was like, why not? It was heart-wrenching to see those young kids locked up. I was hoping to get to at least a couple of them. There were about 20 to 25, ages 14 to 18. Some were in there for the weekend and others were in for a bit longer.
“I stressed setting goals and encouraged them to realize their potential. And I asked them, ‘How do you think your mom feels about you being in here?’ That’s one way you can always get to someone. Everyone wants to make their mom happy.
“And then I talked about college, which generated a lot of questions. Many of these kids wanted to go, but they had no idea how to even begin to get there. How do I qualify? How can I afford it? They didn’t know anything about financial aid. They saw it as a hopeless situation.
“Interestingly, a week later, I was going back to the jail to have lunch with my brother, and I ran into one of the kids who was in the group I spoke to. He stopped me before I went in and told me how much he appreciated me talking with them. He said he was going to do what he could to make his mom happy.
“It is moments like that which make you stop and say, ‘This is what I want my life to be about.’ It’s something so simple, like taking the time to talk with people in trouble. I may never see that person again, but that simple ‘thank you’ made it all worthwhile.”