Thursday, May 17, 2007

Program at Work

Program at Work:

We have a player on our team. He just turned 20 year old. He works two jobs and pays the rent for his mother, two brothers, sister and nephew. Due to his family's transience he missed out on high school. He is completing his GED in his spare time. Recently I asked him, "So besides play soccer getting your ged and working, what do you do? " "I don't know," he said and smiled like a teenager, "That's about it!"

He got home one day recently and noticed his cash box looked different. Sure enough his sister and mother had helped themselves to 3/4s of the$1500 he was saving to buy a car with. In addition, his sister had talked out all his minutes on his cell phone. It is amazing how well adjusted this young man is given what's happened in his life. On this occasion, he lost his temper, kicked the tv against the wall and started yelling at his sister and mother. When he punched the wall. His mother called the police. He was charged with non violent assault on a female and destruction of property. He spent a week in jail and lost one of his jobs.

When we found out about the incident, we went to court with him, called his mother, got her to drop the charges. He had some more time to come to practice for a week and then he quickly found more work. Then, on Sunday, I got a call from his brother, telling me he was in jail, could I help bail him out. He missed the court date for dismissal and the police came out to the apartment in the morning and took him to jail. Since the assault was on a female the bond was set at $2,500 and no bondsman wanted to touch it since he had missed a courtdate and I wasn't a relative. We contacted his work and contacted the DA while we waited for his courtdate. He appeared by video on tuesday to have his bond set. His mother, his siblings said, had left town to work and they weren't exactly clear as to where she went. I got in touch with his uncle however, but he couldn't come to court. I and a volunteer from the soccer program who knows him and took an afternoon off from her job at Wachovia and appeared on his behalf. The judge was recpetive and unsecured his bond and agreed to have him signed out to his uncle.

This I think was our program at work. Without an advocate he would have sat in jail for two weeks awaiting his court date and lost his job. Maybe, if the mother couldn't have gotten together enough money, the family would have been homeless again. It is scary to think that an entirely admirable young man could be criminalized so easily without an advocate, but of course it happens ever day.

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