Alex told his story Wednesday. It didn’t fit into the category of easy listening.
The young man from Goshen recounted a childhood that included a troubled homelife, brushes with authorities, placement in foster care. However, Alex also talked about the adults in his life who helped him along the way, whose support was key to him becoming the success he is today — a scholarship winner who graduated high school early.
Alex told his listeners he wanted to inspire them to motivate children, to be a catalyst for their success. He couldn’t have asked for a more receptive audience.
WEDNESDAY MARKED the sixth annual Community Summit on Children. The event in Goshen was aimed at youth care workers and providers, educators, participants in the juvenile justice system, police and others who work to improve the lives of our young people.
Alex wasn’t the only inspiring speaker at the summit. Attendees also heard from Gina Castaneda, a deputy probation officer from Santa Cruz County in California. Castaneda overcame a childhood filled with abuse and surrounded by gang culture. Today, she heads up the Aztecas soccer group, a team of juvenile probationers that includes rival gang members. With Castaneda’s guidance, the players work toward a common goal that doesn’t involve crime and violence.
Resilience was a recurring theme Wednesday. The involvement of caring adults was another. Suffice it to say The Goshen News was happy to cover this event.
We also had great company.
The people who attend these summits deal with no less than our community’s most vital resource — our children. And to say that many of the children they work with have less than idyllic home lives is an understatement.
SO MANY DYSFUNCTIONS can tarnish children’s lives and thwart their potential. Consider abuse and neglect in the home, substance abuse by parents, the lure of gangs. These are the challenges facing child care workers, and they are huge. In one way or another, those who work with troubled children take the work home with them.
Then they get up the next day and do it again. Not to take away from Alex’s speech, but his listeners have no doubt already positively impacted young lives, maybe more than they know.
“What you do matters,” juvenile Magistrate Deborah Domine said at the summit. She’s right.