Catch Them Young, Inc is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth in Washington DC. Their mission is a noble one; according to their Facebook page, they are “committed to the challenge of combating the negative plight that continues to hinder the growth and development of this generation and generations to come.” CTY shared this story with us to give us a little insight into why they do what they do:
Timothy wandered into his first safe space meeting in 2008. Our founder, Joy, received a phone call from a friend stating that he would be bringing Timothy to her meeting that day. The caller said, “you have got to meet this kid, he has a face like a baby and a voice like an old man”.
Upon arrival, the 19-year-old was vibrant and full of energy. Joy was impressed immediately. When he spoke, he told stories of struggle. For being such a young man, his voice was that of an old soul. Having been born and raised in Southeast D.C., Timothy only knew a life of fighting and drug dealing. When he came across Catch Them Young, Inc., neither he nor we knew the impact we would have on one another… but Timothy had a gift. As he spoke of his life and the dilemmas he held, Joy noticed his ability to speak the truth. He was able to articulate his words and string them together beautifully – his voice overflowed with talent and value.
Through the workshops at CTY, Inc., Joy began cultivating his skill, setting him up on the path to a career in communication. With the support he sought behind him, Timothy blossomed. Within six weeks of his first appearance at safe space, his life had shifted miraculously. Away from his past of drugs and dealing, he began speaking for his community – meeting with congressmen for the March on Washington, mentoring youth, and working to end the violence that once plagued his own life.
Approximately five years later, Timothy was a 24-year-old political and community activist. He was challenging the norm and changing the lives of many. Tragically, the world of his past came back with force. In August of 2013, Timothy was shot and killed outside of his home in Southeast D.C. Heartbroken, the community cried out for justice – how could a man who worked so hard lose his life so quickly?
Though police believed he was not the intended target of the shooting, he was killed by the very life he had worked so hard to solve. Timothy was a fighter, an activist, and a hero. While an act of violence may have killed him, it was also the force that he combatted to achieve greatness in his life.
Today, we look back on him as one of the most powerful successes of CTY, Inc. Not because of the impact of his death on the community, but because of the impact of his life. Our encounter of Timothy was life changing! We developed such a bond with this young man and his family as we were able to experience first-hand the miraculous changes that occurred in his life.
We constantly ask ourselves, how can we continue to reach the millions of “diamonds” in our society that are battling these societal ills? Contending with struggles that they were born into, that aren’t any cause of their own, we as an organization will continue to seek out youth in need – continuously working to help individuals like Timothy before their lives are too deeply ingrained in crisis. The future of our youth is up to us! We invite you to join us to Catch Them Young.
Written By: Guest Blogger Kelly Chartrand
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