When we first moved into our home in the 3rd Ward, my 80 year old neighbor, Nadine Singleton, came up to me in the front yard and asked, "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" I smiled at her and said, "This is my home, and my wife and I are fixing it up to live in it. The next thing she said was, "Welcome to the neighborhood!" We ended up establishing a friendship built on trust and respect over the next few months.
One day after coming home from work, Miss Nadine came and knocked on my front door with her great grandson's failing progress report in her hand. She looked at me and said, "Can you please help?" I knew that his single mom was working hard to keep food on the table, and I was not sure what I could do. Finally, I told her to tell him to come down to the house.
Once he got there he was excited to hang out with me until I put him to work raking leaves, cleaning up debris, and sweeping floors. After several hours of work he developed tears in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me, "This is not fun. This is hard." I looked him square in the eye and said, “Get used to it, because this is what you will do for the rest of your life unless you get your grades up.”
Three weeks later, he waited for me to get home at my front door with his report card showing that he had all A's and B's. I took him to his first baseball game and continued our relationship because he knew that not only did he have to keep accountable to his family, he had to keep accountable to his neighbors. Today he is twice my size and well on his way to being the first in his family to go to college.
It takes a village to raise a child, and all we have to do is take up the responsibility - but we must choose to do so and follow through.