We at Lakeside have the privilege of working with students who have had a great deal of adversity in their lives. We recognize that some of our students come from communities where there are situations that are high risk. We feel good that we can provide them with stability and consistent relationships, and help them progress to meet their personal and academic goals.
However, it is a reality that we cannot remove them from environments that are toxic or even violent. Some of our students may be very successful when they are in one of our programs but may still be vulnerable to their unstable circumstances.
We just learned that one of our teenage alumni was shot and killed in one of our more high-risk communities just a few days ago. We are not yet aware of exactly what happened or why. We are only feeling the loss, the tragedy, and the harsh reality of what some of our students face each and every day in their neighborhoods.
I cannot divulge the name or any other information about this student. What I can say is that he was part of one of our schools that provided support and care, allowing him to reach some of his goals before leaving our program.
I grieve for his family who were delighted in his progress while at Lakeside. Our staff also has invested so much time and effort into his life. They too are sensing the loss and the injustice of how hard he worked to move forward in his life only to find the end of his life due to violence at a very early age.
When these moments touch us, it makes us feel very vulnerable and creates so many questions. We all will remember his story, his journey, and his impact in our lives. We know there is a wake of destruction and sorrow in his family and community. It’s such a harsh reality to face and it’s something we’ve seen all over our country. For those of our staff who are working diligently to help students overcome such intense adversity, we often feel helpless in the midst of such tragedy. It gets very real very fast!
I truly admire professionals and mentors who work so diligently with high-risk populations. Tragedy is part of the trauma that confronts them when they spend their lives working with so many students in these situations. It’s a time where we need our own family and staff support as we continue to serve a population that needs hope and stability in their lives. It’s also a time to realize that we are saving, changing, and investing in many lives while they are in our care!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO