Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


This is the face of a statistic that you read about in the paper or see on the news every day. This young man’s greatest risk of death is not cancer, not AIDS, not starvation…his greatest risk of death is by murder.

He has the deck stacked against him. He is poor, he is a high-school drop-out, he is currently unemployed in the traditional sense, he is black, and he is gay. Most adults in this kid’s life have let him down in many ways, by their choices of partners, choices in how they spend their time, priorities they have chosen, and substances they have abused. The school system has failed him. If you saw this statistic walking down the street, some of you might be nervous.

This is also my godson, Kewon. This is the kid that was visiting the neighborhood and saw me walking my dogs when he was 8. Two days later, he asked me to come out and play. So I did.

This is the kid who asked me what the rainbow looking stuff on a shell was called at Fort Monroe beach and I told him “iridescence.” He’s never forgotten that word. This is the kid who looked at art books with me and listened to what I told him.

Later, he invited me to the Portsmouth Children’s Museum where his artwork was hanging. No one else in his family wanted to go. The picture depicted his bedroom. When I asked him how he had chosen the subject he said, “Because you told me that the Van Gogg (Van Gogh) guy painted his bedroom because he was too poor to be able to afford a model. I though that would be a good idea for me.”

This is the kid whose mother, when I asked her what big present he would like for Christmas replied, “I don’t know Miss Annie, you know him better than I do.”

This is the kid whose mother also used rent money to help bail her adult daughter’s drug dealer boyfriend out of jail, who didn’t pay her back. They were evicted and he was homeless at 16, living from couch to couch and too ashamed to tell me. His only link to his family and to me was a cell phone. When he was caught by a school administrator texting his mother who was in the hospital with MS, they took his phone. He became nearly hysterical and was told that if he wanted it back, he’d have to drop out. So he did. Throw away, inner city child.

This is the kid who once walked a mile to the ferry landing, took the ferry to Norfolk, walked a half a mile to the Dollar Store, and used the very little he had to buy me seeds and some garden gloves for Mother’s Day. I cried for an hour after he went home.

This is the kid who got in with the wrong crowd, not doing drugs or stealing, but just looking for acceptance. He went to a so-called female friend’s house to help her mother clean their house. The mother had been ill. This mother and daughter sent him to the store twice to pick up things, giving him counterfeit money to pay for it. He had no idea and certainly got no advantage from it, because he gave them back all the change. Now he faces four felony counts. Afterwards he sat in my living room and cried saying, “Miss Annie, when is it going to get easier?” My heart broke.

And despite all of this, this is the kid who is the newest employee of Marriott Corporation, effective Friday, working in the laundry and in housekeeping. This is the kid we coached all weekend, developed business cards for, who went to Goodwill and found a brand-new Polo by Ralph Lauren oxford cloth shirt and a Joseph A. Bank tie. I can assure you that he was the only interviewee who wrote a thank you note and enclosed his business card which he uses for odd jobs and mowing lawns.

So this is the child of my heart, Kewon, not a statistic, but a human being who perseveres despite circumstances which would knock the rest of us to the ground. This is the kid whose secret dream is to go to Paris some day. The kid who loves salad, because he never gets fresh anything at his house. The kid who drops off his GED homework for me to check after he’s worked his little landscaping business all day. The kid wth the great smile and the heart for helping everyone. You don’t need to cross the street if you see him walking.

Kewon is in God’s hands.  His trial is on my birthday. I only want one present…not guilty. We serve a God who makes all things new, and a God of justice. But next time you think of statistics, think of Kewon. The next time you hear about missionaries going to foreign fields, remember the missionary field right near your house. Kids and dogs…they aren’t throw ways. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. And if you can throw a few prayers his way on April 26, this “mother’s” heart would be glad.