He stood out.
He leaned against the wall watching a basketball game.
He was over six feet tall and two hundred pounds.
He was rough.
His hair braided.
His finger nails dirty.
His jeans were worn.
He wore an over-sized hooded sweater that dangled like a dress.
I asked him, "Are you interested in interviewing for a job"?
I handed him a flyer.
I introduced myself. "My name is Talia. I'm a street worker."
"Nice to meet you Kareem."
I moved on, continuing my outreach.
The next day, preparing for the group interview, Kareem walked into the room.
"What's your name again?" he asked.
"Talia, I'm here for the interview."
Because he showed up I was going to make sure he was hired.
After almost four weeks on the job, Kareem missed a day.
I went out on the streets looking for him.
A Project Boy told me he was arrested the night before; for unarmed robbery.
I went to the police station to get a copy of the police report.
Then I went to visit him at a holding jail.
He opened the door and walked in.
He said, "I knew it was you".
He sat down.
"Kareem, what happened," I asked, "You don't belong here."
He began to cry.
In that moment I knew his hard exterior was a front. Beneath his bear-like body was buried a little boy.
Embarrassed, he looked up and began to tell me what happened.
"Kareem, I will do whatever I can to help you if you promise to do what's right."
"I will," he said. I will...