Last fall, we met Saleem and he was fairly new to Kalamazoo. He had grown up on the east side of Michigan where he had lots of friends, a job he enjoyed and mentored youth at a school. He moved here to live with his brother who is a student at Western Michigan University. Also, the rest of his family lives in Southwest Michigan and he needed to be closer to them for a variety of reasons. Soon after Saleem moved here he found a job, but he really missed the mentoring work he had done as well as making new friends. He was also interested in an exercise program. So we met Saleem and his brother at the Maple St. YMCA for a tour.
During the tour, we saw Chris Broadbent, the Y Youth Program Director, and introduced TJ. A light bulb seemed to go off above everyone’s heads as we realized that Saleem could volunteer for the after school youth program. What a wonderful way for him to mentor youth and be with young adults his age.
Saleem is now a valuable part of the YMCA after school youth program. He helps build snow forts, plays basketball, helps with homework and is a friend. He is no longer the new guy in town – he is part of our community.