The Power of Friendship

Mar. 25, 2022

“I just wasn’t connecting with Jaycel,” shared Todd, a volunteer sitting in my office. “He’d go to the bathroom, wander the hallways and disappear for a bit. I was concerned.”

Two years prior, my old fiend Todd Phillippi emailed me out of the blue. Todd owns an architecture firm in Philadelphia.  Concerned with some of the divisiveness he was seeing in our country and wanting to do something to make a difference for youth in our cities, Todd was searching for volunteer opportunities. Deep down Todd wanted to share his love and passion for architecture and technology with young people who may not get exposed to these experiences. In addition to his 60-hour work week, Todd committed to voluntarily teaching a class at our high school called ETECH—Environmental Technology, Economy and Change. That’s where he met Jaycel.

“So one night I was praying about Jaycel,” continued Todd, “ and God gave me some inspiration.”

The next Wednesday Todd brought an old computer to school in a plastic bag and placed it on Jaycel’s desk with a few tools.

“I asked Jaycel to take the computer apart and name all the parts,” laughed Todd. “Jaycel was stunned. A little surprised.”

That was the moment something special happened. Jaycel became consumed with disassembling the computer—and putting it back together. A friendship was birthed. A connection was made.  Trust was established.

“This past summer Todd and I built a new computer together,” gushed Jaycel when I saw him a little later in the day. “I think I even taught Todd a few things.”

Next week Jaycel will be one of 236 area high school students recognized for Good Citizenship by the Union League Club of Philadelphia—a prestigious honor. Todd is attending as an adult chaperone. It’ll be a moment both Jaycel and Todd will cherish.