A Family of Friends
It was the summer before I entered high school that my mom enrolled me into Baileys because she thought it’ll be a good opportunity to meet people. That was in 2016 and I’ve been a part of Bailey’s Cafe’s six-week summer program ever since. One thing that keeps bringing me back to Baileys is that it is a safe space and the feeling of inclusivity allows me to celebrate the unique way I was created, instead of hiding my true self.
One of my favorite parts of Baileys this summer was going to the garden with Mr. Brian. During Tuesday mornings, Jeremy and I (later Shelby would join us) walked to the garden on 95 Malcolm X between Greene and Lexington. While there, we worked with Mr. Brian and other youth from a different organization. I learned so much during this time about gardening, how to cultivate crops, and how to give back to the community.
The first day we watered the plants and cleaned the streets nearby and around the garden. The fruits, vegetables and herbs that Mr Brain grows in his garden included eggplant, tomatoes, green peppers, thyme, kale, chocolate and many different types of mints. Mr. Brian grows food in his garden with the purpose to distribute the fresh food to the people in the community that are in need, which is important because of the high percentage of food insecurity in the neighborhood.
On Tuesday afternoon, there is gender studies. Gender studies is a workshop dedicated to studying our gender and the roles that are placed on us in society. While the girls go to the church, the guy group stays behind and has a series of discussions. As a young man who’s having to navigate the world without a father figure, it can be challenging at times because there are a lot of things I’m clueless about. Yeah, I can always ask my mother, but as a woman she can only understand so much when it comes to a guy’s perspective. Kadeem, is a great lead male facilitator. I feel like I have a safe space to talk about and ask questions to another man without judgment. We learn about relationships and how to be respectful to women and not rude. This summer Mr Sweat joined our sessions. He teaches us important information about manhood and the real world, like how to communicate with new people we meet. For instance, Jeremy is a new participant at Bailey’s, this is just his second year. He’s very smart and reminds me of me because he does not have many friends and gets bullied. I feel like I’m a good influence on Jeremy, because I can understand his situation of getting bullied. As someone who is different and has health issues, I also don’t have many friends and was bullied a lot in school too. So, I can relate to his situation.
I have also found a good friend in Osei, who joined Bailey’s while I was already a part of it in 2018. He is really somebody who I’ve grown close to over the years. We are not just participants in a summer program, but more like a family now.
Bailey’s Cafe is like a family to me. Ms. Stefanie pushed me to be more engaged in fun activities and I really have learned a lot at Bailey’s. I learned that we each can make a change in our community if we do our part. I’m so proud of my growth. So I say thank you to Ms. Stefanie and the whole family.