Alendra first connected to Abide by playing street ball with her neighbor, Linda. Linda has been a faithful Lighthouse Leader for over four years. Linda is also one of the leaders of the Better Together Basketball program, so it was a natural invitation to ask Alendra to join her team. Alendra had never been involved in any type of organized after-school activity, let alone be asked to be a part of a team. There is power in being part of a winning team. In Abide’s basketball program, players focus on being life-lifting, game changers–they truly become Better Together.
Youth with recognizable leadership skills, like Alendra’s, can be targets for gang recruitment. Omaha is home to more than 30 gangs, many of them organized in north Omaha. Families that struggle with poverty, youth with no positive activities outside of school, and peers or friends who are involved in negative behaviors are huge risk factors for gang recruitment.
As a Lighthouse Leader, Linda prioritizes building relationships with her neighbors. Last summer, that meant helping Alendra find summer work at City Sprouts, the community garden across the street from the Abide Lighthouse.
Alendra and Linda share more than basketball and work. Together trust, friendship, and hope provide for a more positive future. Alendra is becoming a leader for the next generation of north Omaha youth. “ I like my neighborhood now, everybody here has impacted my life.”
Next month: Read the final part of Alendra’s story: Connecting the Community through Service