He was pencil thin and walked with a limp. A thirteen year-old boy with huge yearning eyes who was always an unlucky patient on the children’s floor of the hospital where my youngest daughter was all too often incarcerated.
Curtis had sickle cell anemia, an incurable, painful and terminal disease that plagues young people of African descent.
I would meander into his room to spend a little time with the rebellious loner and would often end up refereeing a screaming match between him and one of the nurses. The street-wise Curtis would usually win.
Over the course of a few years (the hospital was always my home-away-from-home), I eventually learned of the horror of his upbringing, the sad reality of his current life and the apparent dimness of his future.
My experience as a volunteer in the Big Brother-like program in our local Children’s Aid Society was that a small dose of interest and some one-on-one attention could go a long way to helping a kid who was in trouble with the law, failing school and in Curtis’ case, a social outcast.
So, when my time was over with the last boy I was involved with, I asked the CAS if I could...