For the last seven weeks, I have been working on the Team Crossroads marketing campaign. The organization serves at-risk Anglo youth in Israel and their center sits in the middle of Jerusalem, off of Jaffo Road. The once loud, bustling street has been silenced by the light rail, instilling a refreshing calm in one of the most hectic cities in the world.
The PA calls to boycott the Jerusalem marathon. My Google alerts are being sent hourly as the PR machine announcing this opposition is distributing the content to all of the news channels. One another note, 17,000 runners will be descending on these ancient streets, roads closed for hours, turning Jerusalem into one big sporting event.
When I was approached to help with this campaign, I found it to be a big challenge to get even a team of twenty so late in the game. And I smiled nervously at the goal of $25,000. Almost a full 7 weeks later, we reached over $18,000 with more donations pouring in and with over 65 runners running for this organization. I am excited.
I dropped by the center last night to pick up a few shirts for the marathon. Although I’ve spent some time at Crossroads, I have never really been around when the teens are around. Upon my arrival, I am instantly reminded of my own teenage self and the kids I spent my weekend nights with.
When I was a wee little teen in the town of Tulsa, me and a group of friends rammed ourselves into a small brown Citation and drove ourselves downtown, where we sat around, smoked cigarettes and acted unimpressed. The kids around us smashed things and snorted them, their pupils dilated. Their hair bleached. They had nose rings and lip rings, spikes on their belts and bracelets. Girls chose to be androgynous and the boys had black leather. They skated, we watched. Teens drank, passed out, we met strangers from other states who traveled in vans and brought in loud and fun music to an dilapidated downtown apartment converted into a music space.
When I was 15, I wanted to be a filmmaker. So I took my Uncle’s video camera and started filming these kids I was so in awe of. They seemed so experienced in life, so comfortable on the street curb. Their chip on their shoulder made them unique to me, creative and angry at the same time. My suburban upbringing made me envious of their attitude. They seemed so strong.
I loved being part of this scene, I was fascinated and naive. Weekends brought excitement and stories. Fights, danger, music, addiction. We all came together because we felt we didn’t belong, and found solace in a community where we could belong. We became well versed in music. We collected patches on our black hoodies and it was awesome.
In that video I made when I was 15, I asked all the kids I knew where they saw themselves in 10 years. “Dead if I don’t change my ways” said one girl. Another boy in the video shyly greets me and nervously looks around, not wanting too much attention. Many of us grew up to attend Ivy League universities, some joined the army. Some became teachers. And many are now dead.
I am telling you this because walking into Crossroads center I am reminded of that period of my life, which shaped my character and gave me so many stories to tell. I tell you this because when I saw those kids at the center I am impressed by the safe place Crossroads created. You cannot put a price on the mental and emotional health of our youth. They are our community and we need to invest in them.
So readers, aside from patting me on the back on this absolutely fantastic campaign we did. Donate to my cause. Help us reach our $25,000 goal. Let this be for those I knew, who were at-risk youth, so we can remember them through helping others.
Click here to donate to my cause.
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