Today was the opening day of the GRUB 2010-2011 Academic Year Program, the tenth opening day I have been witness to in this phenomenal youth program. Today, as almost twenty teenagers showed up at the farm on a Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on past opening days.
The first year was a challenge. The program was on rocky ground, still trying to find its place when Farmer Roy and I made a pact to “make it work.” With a list from our area workforce development program we made phone call after phone call recruiting teenagers to be part of the GRUB Program. Scoop Hooper, a city employee, then in charge of Youth Development (a program that no longer exists), and I made home visits to explain the concept of GRUB to parents. Finally, on that first opening day, Farmer Roy and I drove from one end of the city to the other picking up teenagers and transporting them to the farm for a morning of field work, job skill lessons, and a whole lot of mentoring and caring. Somehow it all worked. I have no idea how many miles we logged on the GRUB van and on our personal vehicles that first year, but it paid off – the GRUB Program was born. I have fond memories of T-Reg, Tory, Sparkle, Starla, Cortesha, and Cedric, just to name a few from that first year.
The following years brought hundreds of teenagers to the farm. So many names and faces, so many lives and hearts touched and changed by the GRUB Program. But the GRUB teens weren’t the only ones benefiting and changing – Farmer Roy, Farm Manager Debbie, and I were all impacted by the youth in the program. Prasyla, D’Andrea, Marvin, BK, Shae, Chuy, Malcolm, Ronnie, Kacy, Morgan, Analisa, Anthony, Joe, Terrence, Tancquasha, Asia, Sean, Roderick, Cassie, Jontell, Virtis, Jabree, Tyrone, Dillan, the Garcia brothers, the Love siblings, Kimberly, Isaac, and many, many, many more tough and tender, tall and short, volunteers or community service teens, all touched and changed us for the better.
The current crop of GRUB teens is outstanding: Zaquia, LaKeisha, Krista, Zack, Zeke, Adam, Kozie, Sean, B.J., De’Drick, Derrick, Angel, Abry, Kevin, Katrina, and Grace. This group, perhaps more than any other, has taken GRUB to a new level. Add to this our newest staff member, Ashley, and there is no telling where we can go!
Today’s first GRUB workday brought many new teens through our door. As each signed in and filled out the required program paper work, I couldn’t help but wonder who they were and how they would impact the GRUB Program and me in the year to come. Welcome to our farm, we are in for another awesome year. Thank you, each of you, for who you are and what you bring to us.