We help divested young people build the capacity to rise to the challenges of life.
First, what does "divested" mean?
There are young people throughout our community – foster kids, alternative education students, juvenile corrections “clients” … or maybe just the nameless sophomore in the crowded hall of one of our neighborhood schools – who get the impression that we have given up on them. They get that message in our language, in our systems, in the fact that we let them carry their things in garbage bags, in our avoidance of eye contact…
We believe that there are ways to inspire the under-inspired young person, and that this is the way to break the cycle of faltering family resulting in faltering youth, resulting in faltering family … So rather than write off these apparently shiftless youth as lost causes, we choose to invest. We bind up our own health and well-being to theirs, not because we are saints, but because this is reality: the health and well-being of our community is inextricably connected to justice and mercy for the young people among us who think we’ve given up on them.
To borrow a line from Coach Carter (a movie everyone should watch), when the coach was demanding, to the school principal of all people, that his basketball players should be expected to perform in the classroom:
School Principal: "But what if they fail?"
Coach Carter: "Then we fail!"
We will do whatever we would do for our own kids in pursuit of this mission. (Why?)
We provide experiences that build character, confidence, and skills and a community of people living life with intentionality, intelligence, and spirit.
We currently focus on building critical work skills in a team concept through an IKE Quest
Internship at the IKE Box, Isaac’s Downtown, IKE Baking and IKE Cleaning the family businesses of Isaac’s Room.
We continually seek and pursue opportunities to better meet the needs of divested young people.
We are rising to the challenge to build a progression of opportunities and services that help divested youth get on their feet, learn to walk, and then learn to run. Such services should include shelter and transition housing, viable education alternatives, and training and experience in vital life skills.
Real, to state the obvious, is not fake. It is not a toy.
We give our kids toy replicas of some of the things they will need to handle every day later in life. Toy cars, toy money, toy phones … We can’t give them the real version, at least not until we’ve taught them how to properly use it. To give something real is a commitment to teach and to mentor.
I received a BB gun for my 10th birthday. I opened it in front of all my extended family, and shortly afterward, my Dad quietly asked me to step out on the back deck with him.
Away from everyone else, he first asked me if I liked the gun.
It was a classic Daisy rifle, and I was ecstatic. Dad smiled.
Then he took a serious tone, and looked at me very directly. “This is a real gun,” he said. “Unlike all the toys you’ve played with as a younger child, this one actually shoots and you could really hurt yourself or someone else.”
It was a sobering, enthralling moment.
"Some of the people in that room,” he motioned at our relatives, “don’t think that you are old enough to handle a BB gun. They don’t think I should have given you the real deal. But I believe you can handle it. I’ll teach you. Now listen …”
And with that, my Dad pulled off one of the miracles of positive youth development: he made me better by believing in me. He made an occasion and expected me to rise to it.
And I will never forget those moments with my Dad, moments of confidence and resolve as I received his time and attention and instruction. Moments made possible because a Dad ventured to trust his kid with something real.
The term investment has a similar gravity about it. To invest is to link my well-being or success to the well-being or success of another.
If you give a man a fish, you help him for a day. That’s charity.
If you teach a man to fish, you help him for a lifetime. That’s good ministry.
If you teach a man to fish, give him a job in your fishing business, and send him out in your own boat and gear, now you’ve made an investment. If the rookie fisherman flops, it hurts your business. Of course, if he thrives, your business thrives proportionally.
This is what we want to do for these kids (because it’s what we would do for Isaac) – show them that we believe in them and commit ourselves to their success by making a real investment in them.
The IKE Box is not a toy investment. We are committed to teaching good work ethic and exemplary customer service skills, because the IKE Box is a real café business that depends on it. Our success is directly tied to the success of the kids we serve. So we’re committed – we’re invested.