Thursday, June 16, 2005

This is the deal that just went right

Miracles always come from unexpected places. On Tuesday night, for example, a friend and his wife wanted to present me with a financial gift for Generation Xcel. First they shared their story. Both husband and wife are LES lifers, born and raised. He and his five brothers were thugs, running a wholesale drug business that distributed in excess of $100,000 each weekend. One night, a customer attempted to rob them of $40,000 by putting torn newspaper between sets of bills. When my friend found the scam, his customer pointed a gun in his face and said, "This is the deal that just went bad." He pulled the trigger, but the gun didn't shoot and my friend survived unharmed. Ultimately he gave up the drug game in part because his youngest brother was sentenced to 15-25 years upstate for an unrelated incident. Neither husband nor wife has been directly involved with Xcel, but for the last three years they have interacted with Xcel students who have become vital members of Abounding Grace. The kids we serve are just like they were 20-25 years ago. They had no idea until Tuesday that their cousins Mei-Ling and Ling-Mei were co-founding Xcel at roughly the same time he was giving up the drug business. The evidence of changed lives compelled them to invest $5,000 in Mei and Ling's legacy. For us $5,000 is a major gift. In fact it's the largest donation received from a private individual since before 9/11, and ranks as the third largest personal gift in our ministry's nine year history. But as significant as the size is for us, the timing couldn't have been better. Funding our summer programs the last two years has been incredibly challenging, forcing us to modify from a full-day summer day camp, which requires significant seasonal staffing, to an assortment of outreach activities and specialized programs that can be facilitated more by volunteers. This year's summer has been especially difficult with not even one significant funder rising to the challenge. Thus we're relying almost entirely on interns and volunteers (which have been abundant, thank God and InterVarsity, from Cal State Dominguez Hills and NYCUP) to craft a summer that's unlike any we've ever had. Despite the adjustments, we still need additional cash to fund the balance of the activities, which include:

  • the 10th annual 3-on-3 Hoops Tournament
  • the fourth annual Carnival
  • 20 hours per week of dance, drama, art, design, and recreational programming from 7/5-8/20
  • a week-long Chain Reaction of community service and random acts of kindness, and
  • a youth-focused and conducted community assessment to update our understanding of our ever-changing Alphabet City neighborhood
This week's donor challenged me to find individuals who would match his gift 3 to 1, giving us $20,000 to support these activities for the next three months. Collectively, they will allow us to impact 1,500 children and youth in the neighborhood. Would you consider helping us meet his challenge? All donations are tax deductible and should be payable to Generation Xcel, 9 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003, or donate online via PayPal.


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