We all know what it’s like to have one of those gut-wrenching, gloomy, dismal, despondent days when the storm just decides to rear its ugly face and take away that one ray of sunshine in our lives for absolutely no good reason.
My ex-boyfriend breaking up with me was brutal, but it ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise. Watching my old Honda Civic being towed away before I could even feel the thrill of driving it was painful after spending what was a hard-earned $400 on it – spending $2,000 on replacing the transmission just wasn’t in the cards at that time. Heck, leaving my old freelance job at a larger company left me with shreds of longing initially and I wondered if I should have given it another chance. But I quickly found comfort in the arms of my current full-time position, to which I’ve been faithful for three-and-a-half years and going strong. I love the freedom I have generally to pursue the stories I want to cover – and the health coverage here is excellent.
But a phone call from a friend last week gave me some heartbreaking news that’s left me pondering what went wrong. He lowered the boom, not on me, mind you, but on a partnership for which I had extremely high hopes.
Pastor Leslie Williams, founder of the local Saving a Life Together (SALT) program, an anti-gang effort targeted at providing alternatives to those who are involved in the gang lifestyle, informed me he has dismissed Roberto Nerey, a longtime community activist and founder of the Guiding a New Generation (GANG) program. For three months, they were in the process of collaborating and unifying their goals and vision to impact our teen gang members and lead them to making better choices. They were working hard at it.
I know. The Sparks Tribune labored to put out an in-depth report on gangs in the summer and Williams, who read the stories within the first few days of it coming out, called me up in interest, wanting to meet Nerey, a former gang member who served time in prison and is eager to help kids.
During the introduction, I saw the dynamics between Williams and Nerey take root in a lunch meeting I helped to arrange. They both have a heart for kids and I watched in amazement as Williams asked questions and pushed Nerey for the truth and pointed out what he should have been doing to really get his program off the ground years ago.
I was certain it would work.
Out of respect for both gentlemen, I’ll withhold the details of my conversation with the good pastor, but somewhere along the way, the relationship grew “clouded,” as Williams put it. I asked, with every reason to hope, if there might be a chance to reconcile, to give the issue time to breathe and for the two to come back together. I sensed a great deal of regret in Williams’ tone when he said such a thing would not be possible.
Many questions have lingered in my mind since then. As a journalist, I love reporting the good news and this, to me, was a positive cause to report to the Sparks community.
Let me make it clear: It still is. Williams is proceeding with SALT with a board of trustees and growing staff to offer the teens on our streets an alternative to the gang involvement and violence that is plaguing our neighborhoods. I believe with some assistance, he’s going to help change lives.
I know it because of the Cops and Robbers basketball game held on Sunday at the Boys and Girls Club during which members of the Reno police and fire departments played against some of Williams’ SALT kids. Not only was a good time had by all, but they raised money to help SALT and the Evelyn Mount Community Outreach program and those teens were spirited and enjoyed helping out their community. Though the “Robbers” team, consisting of the kids, lost by a meager two points to the Cops players, Williams couldn’t have been more proud to have his guys out there doing good for others and learning that our local police officers and firefighters do care about their community.
I’m confident SALT will be very successful and we’ll see some exciting days ahead.
But some relationships just aren’t meant to be and I will continue to hope that SALT and GANG, whether together or separate, achieve their missions. Our teens are in desperate need of guidance without discord and clashing among our community’s leaders. If we’re to set the examples for them, sometimes parting ways may be in their best interest.
While it may not have been meant to be, I wish the best for Williams and Nerey and I’ll follow up time to time. There are still many exciting SALT milestones about to occur. There’s still a boxing ring to be installed soon and it will be an aspect of the program that will train our young teens to use their hearts, minds and bodies in a healthy, proactive manner.
I also hope the community finds it worthwhile to hear about these milestones with gladness and support.
Jessica Garcia is a reporter for the Sparks Tribune. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.