Young Neighbors in Action stories


(click here for YNIA info)

Here’s one of my favorite Young Neighbors stories. I got a million of ’em. This happened maybe 5 years ago. We were at the second of three different residences we have used for YNIA in Detroit over the years I was volunteering. The first was Marianhill a former seminary in Dearborn Heights; the third and current as of 2012 is Mother Cabrini High School in Allen Park. The year this event happened, we stayed at St Bart’s an old former convent in northeast Detroit on Outer Drive east of I-75. Our van group was volunteering for the week at Cass Community Social Services. Not everyone got the word that we would be invited to go swimming at the founder’s pool. So they didn’t bring suits. I arranged for them to have parents take their suits to St Pat and for my middle son John to bring them over to the residence. John called me just before dinner that his truck had broken down about 2 miles from the residence on I-75. I drove over there worried that we’d have to have it towed and someone would have to come pick him up. But John was absolutely confident he could fix it. When I got to his truck on a neighborhood street off the service drive, he was just walking back from the parts store where he bought the nuts he thought he needed. All he had was a crummy little multi-tool which included a small adjustable wrench. He was under the truck working on the bolts holding the transmission parts front & back together. A couple guys from a neighborhood home came out and asked what was going on. John explained and the guys said, “Hey, we’re walking over to a friend’s house for a poker game but if you want to use our tool box, here, take it — just put it in the back seat of my car there when you’re done.” I couldn’t believe these guys trusted a couple complete strangers with hundreds of dollars worth of tools. We (meaning John) got the truck repaired and returned the tools and were on our way to YNIA shortly.

people can be amazing.

YNIA # 2

In 2009, on one of my weeks, Kara was my senior leader. Our program director Geof liked to pull pranks. Each morning as we left the residence for our work sites, Geof and the others on the team would greet us in the parking lot to send us on our way. As Geof walked past the rear of the vans he opened the gas cap covers. Some of us noticed; others did not. About a mile from the residence we pulled up to a stop light. We were one lane over and one vehicle behind Miguel’s van — another YNIA group from upper lower Michigan near the lake. Kara noticed Miguel’s gas cap cover was open and asked if she could close it. I decided there was enough time before the light changed and nodded. She jumped out, ran up, closed the cap, and ran back. As she was doing this, I noticed the big bad dude in the huge pickup truck next to us. He looked stereotypically mean — shaved head, fu manchu accompanying the frown, big biceps, mean tats. His eyes followed Kara back to our van. As she hopped back in, he looked over at us both and squinted his eyes and broke a massive smile and nodded righteously to her. No doubt he assumed Kara was so cool to do such a thing for a total stranger. Perhaps later in his day he might be inspired to inspire someone accidentally or deliberately.

YNIA # 3

In 2004 my first YNIA week outside Detroit was in Chicago. My van-mates and I were assigned the wonderful Bishop Conroy residence for our work site. Bishop Conroy is a residence for low- or no-income seniors. It was established by and is run by the Archdiocese of Chicago. My van-mates included Kate, Matt, Sean, Kristin, & Maegan. We had the great honor and privilege of working with several senior residents. There were a half dozen women we worked with closely. One of them I’ll call Leota. She had moved in only recently. She introduced herself to us saying she had been a dancer and dance instructor. One of the other women interrupted and said, “She’s a STRIPPER.” Later in the week someone proposed a talent show. There were singers, magic acts, juggling and Leota suggested she could teach us a line dance. She taught us a lovely line dance to a Frank Sinatra song, if I recall. We were each invited to choose a solo component to the dance. Imagine — me dancing let alone coming up with a solo. Ohhh the humanity. Matt actually taught me the water-sprinkler and that was my solo. In spite of my part in this effort, the dance was a success. Meanwhile, lots of games of bunko and a shopping trip and meals and plenty of fun. The young women on our team decided that we would all give our clients manicures. What a scream. Imagine me doing nails for a couple elderly women. Soaking, trimming, & applying polish. While I was doing the nails for Maggie Marie, next to me Kate was doing Leota’s nails. Our conversations got mixed up; Kate & I were speaking with both our clients. Kate asked Maggie Marie — “What does your daughter do?” I asked Leota what one of her favorite songs was. But Leota heard Kate’s question So Leota answered Kate’s question while I thought she was answering mine with “She’s a gynecologist.”

I hear the video of the talent show was destroyed in the O’Leary fire.

  • Copyright @ 2016 by David Seibert
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