Friday, October 9, 2009

Wake Up! It's Time to Make the Change!

Well, once again my grueling but rewarding schedule is well under way for the 5th time. AWOL has been producing the annual Hip-Hop History production for 5 years now.Our theater education program was the first tool used to "Make the Change" for youth. The kids have been auditioned, enrolled, and are now in the very first stages of becoming a "family". I can't tell you how much I love this time of year, despite the fact that me and Tony end up working nearly 10-12 hour days! Recently, we had a very funny thing happen to us. In a meeting with representatives from the City of Savannah, we were discussing our 2010 request for program funding. We have been very fortunate to have been a vendor for the City for the last 4 years, a relationship that has allowed us to engage several hundred youth on so many levels. So you can imagine our surprise when the City rep incorrectly assumed that from the looks of our grant application, me and Tony were getting 2 full time salaries, but only working 3-4 days per week for only 3 hours per day! lol.

I almost choked when she said that! We looked back at her and kindly informed them that the Jordan's have got to be the two hardest working non-profit professionals in town. She had made this determination based on our program hours and not our "office hours". So just to clear things up, we decided to paint for them a very vivid picture of what a day in the life of the Jordan's looks like. I then thought to myself, why not let the world know what it's like to have a burning desire in your heart to help young people succeed. I can remember quite clearly that when we embarked on this mission, we were very clear that the notion of running a youth program and going home everyday at 5pm, was not going to work. In fact, we felt strongly that this mentality, was a part of Savannah's youth crime problem, not enough activities available during the hours most relevant to youth, after school and at night. So let's look at the standard AWOL/Jordan Family Schedule and you let me know what you think.

AWOL/Jordan Family Schedule

Alarm goes off at 6:00am..."Time to Make the Change"

By 6:30am, Tony "Super Dad" Jordan is headed to our 7 year old Autistic son's room to wake him for school (but not before his he makes his daily Good Morning Facebook kidding, you can check it if you don't believe me)

6:45am-7 year old is in the shower, Tony's ironing school uniforms for both boys (ok, so I'm still asleep...gotta get my beauty

7:20am-Now I'm up and headed to kitchen to make breakfast for boys and help 7 year old finish up any unfinished homework

7:40am-Tony is about done getting the oldest boy dressed and I'm screaming for him to come eat, we also wake the 2 year old from his beauty rest to come eat breakfast with his brother.

7:45-8:15-Its breakfast and homework and ESPN blaring in the background while Tony irons his cloths and sometimes mine too...yeah..he's actually pretty domestic, don't you just love that in a guy? smile

8:20-Bus arrives, 7 year old grabs his book bag and heads out. Now it's time for me, Tony and the 2 year old to get ready...

Usually we are out the door by 9:30 if I'm lucky.

10-10:30am-We arrive at the office (PAUSE..quick note, my office is really at the house, so I may stay home to work, just depends on how much paperwork, grants, reports, ect I need to work on)

So from 10-3:30pm we are busy with admin duties, social marketing, taking calls, giving tours of our facility, and smoozing potential donors for money..yeah..this is hard work, ask any non-profit leader in town and they'll tell you.

So 3:30pm hits and its time for one of us to head back home to get the 7 year old off the bus from school, then head back in town to pick up the 2 year old from daycare, then we head to evening program sites to work with teens.

5:30pm-Arrive at program sites, Tony usually hangs out with the Sound Design kids, while me and our 2 boys hang out at the St. Pius Family Resource Center with the Theater kids. So that makes, 15-20 youth at one site, and another 65-70 at the other, totaling a possible 90 youth! WOWZERS!

7:30pm! SNACK TIME! Time to make sure all the kids get a quick bite before finishing of arts based training for the night.

8:30pm-Time for parent pick up at both sites

9:30pm-This is the time when most of the kids are all finally gone, always a few slow parents for whatever reason, sometimes they simply work late, but we never leave kids alone

9:45pm-(are you tired yet just from reading this?...i know, imagine how we So by 10pm we are back at home, our kids are of course exhausted, they are put right to bed, sometimes they are a little hungry, since they usually eat dinner around 5pm, so I may have to whip up a little meal.

11:00pm-Long Yawwnnnnn---Me and Tony are finally in bed, usually clicking away on our laptops, doing our nightly Facebook, Twitter blogging and checking emails.

12-1am-Lights Out! Time for some much deserved sleep


So now you know, this is what it means to dedicate your life to youth. At least for us it does. Most of the time we give our horrendous schedule little thought. I figure, God has blessed us with the strength and the resources to do it and a community of people who support what we do. So when I'm dog tired, and my eyes are heavy, I'll mosey on back to the gymnasium at St. Pius to see all the bright shining faces up on stage, laughing, dancing and learning. The kids give me so much strength, that at the end of the day, I'm always clear about why we are here doing what we do. Its for them, the kids, besides they are all that really matters anyway.

People...the Real AWOL Capital

But what I most want the community to know is that while me and Tony get lot's of attention and the admiration of our colleagues, it's not only what we do that makes AWOL run. It is the dedication and hard work of our modest staff of only 3 persons, 2 of which work other full time jobs during the day and then come to AWOL at night, and have done so for over 3 years now. Lloyd and Patrick our Sound Design teachers are the best in the world as far as I'm concerned. They are both outstanding men who behind the scenes have mentored and supported dozens of Savannah's most high risk youth. Our newest staff member Lakesha, has taken our Theater program to new heights and works nearly night and day, not to mention she also wears the hat of Executive Assistant when she's not being a Theater Director.

Our partner arts organization, Abeni Cultural Arts has provided our young people with high quality dance instruction, and all while dragging their 3 kids to practice nightly as well. My hats off to Muriel and Darowe for also being outstanding people of exceptional quality and most of all reliable. Our newest choreographer, Lady Mahogany of 94.1 The Beat radio has become a true dance "Drill Sargent", and we are humbled that she has taken time out of her busy schedule to spend a few nights a week sharing her awesome talent and doing what matters the most, saving lives.

Ladies and Gents, making the change is not accomplished by one. It can only be accomplished by "some". Will you help us make the change for Savannah's youth?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009