May 28th 2011
"Mr. Albert, you've gotta' let me go on that trip to Virginia."
Albert Vega glanced at 15 year old Micah and sadly explained. “Micah, you knew the deal. We are only able to take eight students from our camp and you didn’t make the cut because of your grades.”
For the past four months the young teenagers at Albert Vega’s UrbanPromise’s Camp Spirit AfterSchool Program, had been “earning points” in their effort to go on a Spring Break Trip. The students were given points to go towards the trip for: good attendance, grade improvement, and positive progress in the attitude department. Once all the points were tallied Micah had not made the cut.
“Come on Mr. Vega, please, please,” begged Micah. “Ya just gotta let me go!”
It was anguishing for Mr. Vega to tell Micah no, because for over the past year Micah had indeed made tremendous academic and attitudinal advancements, given that he had already failed 7th grade three times. Albert became like the father Micah never had. And the idea of Micah spending his spring break with nothing to do other than roam the streets of Camden, was disconcerting.
Then, of course, Micah was relentless with his pleading. “Please Mr. Vega, I just gotta go to Virginia, please!”
Do you remember the Biblical story about a widow who persistently asked a judge for mercy? The judge reluctantly capitulated to her demands, because the widow simply wore him out—she didn’t stop asking until she got what she wanted. Micah, like the widow, was wearing Albert down.
Albert needed a plan. “Okay Micah, I’ll make you a deal, if you raise 50 bucks—in the next 30 minutes—for the UrbanPromise kids in Africa, I’ll let you go with us to Virginia!”
Barely before Albert finished the last sentence, Micah was out of the classroom. Grabbing a few felt tip pens and a large piece of cardboard, he quickly crafted a poster.
HELP KIDS IN AFRICA--SEND ME TO VIRGINIA FOR SPRING BREAK!
With his impressive production, Micah was off to the traffic light at 36th and Federal Streets. For the next 30 minutes he waved to motorists, stopped cars, knocked on windows and pleaded for money.
“I got the money! I GOT THE MONEY!” Micah screamed across the parking lot—30 minutes later—to a startled Mr. Vega. “I got it. I got it and more.”
Micah dashed toward Mr. Vega and pulled a fist of bills from his pocket and excitedly shook them in front of his amazed friend.
“One hundred and eighty five bucks, Mr. Vega!” shouted the animated teen. “Look what I got--and its all for the kids in Africa!”
Micah’s sheer joy continued this past week as he enjoyed the first time wonders of east cost travel: the Smokey Mountains, Busch Gardens, sleeping in a tent and visiting Washington, DC, the White House, the Smithsonian. It was life changing.
Riding home Friday afternoon in the 15 passenger van, Micah leaned over to an exhausted Mr. Vega. “Thanks Mr. Vega,” he whispered. “Thanks for letting me go to Virginia. It was the most beautiful, exciting week of my life.”
If you ever doubt that your support of UrbanPromise is making a difference, just think of Micah and Albert. Your faithfulness allows me to keep other exceptional workers, like Albert, who are deeply connected to young men and women in the city of Camden.
Micah’s life has changed. With God’s help, and yours, we continue to change this city….one child at a time.