Thursday, June 09, 2005

I've known her since she was 5

Lorreal (aka Lori) Torres, recipient of the 2005 Xpress Writing Award and Xcel board member since January, is one of my heroes.
(Photo courtesy of Mike Mowery. Check out more pictures of Lori and the rest of the cast of Xpress' Life in Translation here and here.)
At seventeen, Lori is finishing her junior year at the High School for Leadership and Public Service and aspires to a career as an attorney (or investigative journalist ... one guess where my biases lie). She'll be spending the summer at Syracuse University's Summer College for high school students before returning for her fourth year as a class representative to the student government.

Lorreal is an LES lifer who's lived in Bracetti Houses on Avenue C for as long as I've known her. In July 1993, her mother Carmen enrolled 5-year old Lori and her two younger sisters, Leann and Alexis, in Vacation Bible School at Abounding Grace back when AGM was still a tiny church plant meeting in the basement of a row house on 6th Street. Carmen and her girls became part of the Abounding Grace family that week and have remained vital members ever since then. Over the years, I have watched Lori grow from one of a handful of Sunday School children, to one of Xcel's original students, a youth group volunteer, dance team member, Xcel intern, Xpress cofounder, and respected young leader.

At our April board meeting, one of the new board members asked about how Xcel measures outcomes, the kind of quantifiable measurements that funders and social scientists demand. I started to answer when Lorreal cut me off. "I am a product of Generation Xcel," she said, and proceeded to tell the story of a shy kid who found her voice participating in Group Club and Boot Camp and dance and drama activities at Xcel After School. She talked about the influence Xcel cofounders Mei-Ling and Diana had on her, and how Dorothy became a mentor. I'd never heard her share in quite that way before, but her testimony that night reminded me of all the other gems Lori is helping to polish and shape today.


At 6/10/2005 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Lori said...

Thanks j you make me sound liek an accomplished student. Wel its all thanks to you guys at XCEl, Xpress and at church

At 6/10/2005 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Del Rio said...

Lori, I don't have to "make" you sound like anything other than who you are. :) Thanks for letting us be part of your family.


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