Towards the end of the summer vacation, the Varsity Boy’s Soccer Team flew out to Tobago. Our two coaches, Warren and Sherwin, were born there but left to pursue their careers in soccer and coaching. They have built an outstanding relationship for the Friends Seminary soccer team over the years and wanted to give back to their community. With the help of Kleats for Kids the team took our service trip Tobago. That week we woke up early to give coaching clinics to children and donate cleats to all of them, and played games at night against the locals. The smoldering heat and the dripping sweat was all worth it to see the smile on the kids faces. We went around to all the local spots that the coaches knew and learned as much as we could about their culture in a week. It was an incredible experience to bond as a team, but more importantly bond with all the kind and welcoming Tobagonians.
For my service requirement I helped coach and ref younger kids playing soccer. I worked with the Manhattan Kickers Recreational League at the Con Edison fields. Helping these young soccer players was challenging and very eye opening. I remember all those years ago, being in their position. When I was their age I remember having a favorite coach who everyone loved. I tried to fill position for them and help them learn as much as they could. It was a great experience and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
In the months leading up to service day, each student was put into groups and asked to research a local problem. Each team of students picked a topic that they felt somewhat personal about but my group picked one that I felt extremely passionate about, homelessness. “You know where I was when you were born? Right here”, Richard Jefferey told me the other day on the corner of my block. This is a man that has known me since day one, and hasn’t socially stuck since then. Richard has gone through many rough times including losing one of his lungs to cancer and his family abandoning him. On his birthday last year he described to me how people view him, a bum, he told me that he wants to be seen and treated as an actual human being and not garbage. This really made me think about how I treat the homeless. Richard being the exception, I don’t even notice them anymore, I just walk by. So when I was presented with the opportunity to research and possibly help the homeless shelters, I was excited. The school connected us with an organization called BRC or Bowery Residents Committee. They do more than just housing for the homeless, they help them and teach them. My team and I learned a lot from the site visit and watched them at work. The experience of talking to all the residents there and seeing how hard things can be, really opened up our eyes and we wanted to share that feeling. When it came to service day, we had already made it through the first round and presented it to the whole grade. Our time with BRC was really amazing and made me think in a whole new way.