When I worked for the YMCA I used to run a program called Middle School Madness. This was an every other weekend program that was on a Saturday night and opened to all Middle Schoolers in the area. We had a DJ in one gym, a gyme for playing basketball, a game room, and free pizza and drinks. We would average over 500 middle school students at these events. There were a lot different things that happened at Middle School Madness.
One time a father of one of the participants got on me demanding his money back because his little girl didn’t get pizza. I clearly stated that the pizza was available for free as long as it lasted and each youth was given one slice. The whole time his daughter was yelling at him to stop. He continued to demand his money back and so I gave it to him but told him that she would not be allowed back if he took the refund. I went back in the back to get the money and when I came back he and his daughter were gone.
I didn’t think much about it until about a week later when my boss called me into up to her office. When I got there, the father was sitting in her office. I walked in guarded because I wasn’t sure what had been discussed. When I sat down the father, apologized for over reacting and said that he didn’t understand the policy about pizza and honestly just assumed she was going to get a free dinner. I thanked him for apologizing and discussed the rule with him. After we had chatted a bit, he asked if his daughter could still come to Middle School Madness. Of course I said yes and the next Middle School Madness she was back.
Why do I tell you this story? What was the point? Well this is how I met a middle school student, the daughter named Katie, that because a valuable part of our program. Soon after this incident, she started in the afterschool program and then summer camp. She became one of my favorite kids and soon she was a valuable part of my Leader’s club program. Anytime I offered a program and trip, Katie was there.
As I got to know her, I found out that her dad was overprotective sometimes. They had a couple of years before lost Katie’s mom and sometimes it was hard for her dad to be a single parent. I remember one time having a long conversation with Katie under the outside pavilion where we held middle school summer day camp. We talked for a long time about what she had been through, her dad, what her mom was like, and just about life in general. Moments like this conversation are why I do what I do.
After I left the YMCA I was able to stay in touch with Katie over Facebook. I don’t get to see her or talk to her very much but I still get to watch her grow and every now and then I leave notes on her Facebook page letting her know that I am here if and when she needs me. I have watched her grow up graduate high school and start college. I am so thankful for the memories I have of Katie.
Just think the first time she met me, her dad and I were fighting over pizza at an event called Middle School Madness. The Lord works in mysteries ways!