Ronnel is 10. He’s a 4th grader. He lives with his grandma and mom (who is several years clean from substance abuse). There’s no father in the picture. Ronnel walks the short distance to the program site every Saturday during the three-month summer program operated by Radical Living (with support from Nickels for Neighbors). At school he is identified as a “problem child.” And there are times during the summer program when he does pose certain challenges to Radical Living staff – for example, he can be very stubborn and refuse to participate in group activities and, at times, he takes a defiant tone.
But Ronnel is committed to the Radical Living community and to learning how to grow vegetables, herbs, and berries – and even how to cook healthy recipes from homegrown produce. He’s grown in his ability to communicate his feelings and frustrations, and has even learned some conflict transformation tools. Last summer, the Radical Living youth and staff took a one-week trip to a farm in Vermont. Ronnel had never left the city before. In fact, he has hardly left Brooklyn. He became very homesick and almost had to be driven the five hours back to NYC. The next day, after experiencing very real homesickness, he saw a baby calf be born. For some reason – perhaps simply seeing new life enter the world or witnessing the miracle of birth – Ronnel chose to stay and participate in the group activities.
With help from Nickels for Neighbors, Radical Living has been able to provide an extra layer of support to Ronnel and his family, and a couple dozen other families very similar to Ronnel. We are thankful for the ACC family and all the church support. Thank you! We are a small non-profit in the heart of Brooklyn serving our city’s most vulnerable. We are always in need of support. If you’d like to contribute to the important work of transforming the lives of young people in Brooklyn, please visit www.radical-living.org and click “donate.”