Saturday, July 27, 2013

The great race

Thursday evening marked the second running of the Mile Fly Club’s monthly one-mile dash on the Beltline. The brainchild of Sean Pfister and Jeffrey Wisard of IWeLife, the event has a laid-back vibe I’ve seldom seen at organized runs.

This is at least partly by design. What does a race organizer do for fun when he’s not overseeing logistics for an event with 1,000 high-strung participants? Probably something like what we experienced Thursday night.

Sean intentionally keeps the event small—the field is capped at 70 runners, and last week's event had probably half that number. Registration costs just five bucks and pays for computer chip timing on a certified course, with hot dogs, chips, cold drinks, and good company afterwards.

To complete the feel-good story, the registration process offers runners a built-in chance to make a contribution to the organization chosen as the month's charity partner. That's where we come in. YES!Atlanta had the privilege of being this month's partner.

Of course we're appreciative of whatever monetary contribution ends up coming out of the event, but to focus on the money would be to miss so much of the benefit of that night.

During the course of the evening, I met Benjamin of Atlanta Beltline Bicycle (our gracious host for the post-race festivities); a neighboring business owner who saw the hubbub and stopped by; friends and associates of a couple of board members; and runners just there for a good time.

I got to introduce my wife and our little girls around. The three of them met Simeon, my committed partner, for the first time.

I got to run far enough to break a sweat on a pleasant course at a pace that will not cause the current world record holder in the mile to lose any sleep.

But the best part for me was getting to share some leisurely time with a number of our program volunteers, teens, and board members—thirteen of us, by my count.

As we’ve gotten back in the habit of holding monthly Second Saturday sessions, we’ve rediscovered the power of surrounding the teens we serve with a host of adults committed to being positive influencers. A night like this was perfect for candid, unforced conversation among people united by their commitment to the mission of Coaching for Success.

I was so encouraged to see our teens at ease mingling with folks other than their own mentors. And I was pleased (though not surprised) by the enthusiastic support offered to those teens as each ran his or her own race.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Thanks for the amazing intro, Matt! I must say, when I first heard about the Coaching for Success program I was super excited yet a little nervous at the same time. I was nervous that I would not mesh well with my mentee and a host of other things!

As time has progressed, I and my mentee, Darnell, basically have become like brothers. I constantly repeat to Matt how amazing this program is. I am a 24-year-old student at GSU with so much going on. I find so much life and fulfillment with mentoring. I am learning so much about myself in this journey. So much enlightenment has flooded my mind and body. It is truly an amazing experience.

There were many factors that Darnell and I needed to target. At the beginning of each month we both would create a monthly to-do list.  It really helped with organizing and setting goals. The main factor that we targeted on Darnell’s end was his grades. The factor that I targeted on my end was procrastination. In fact, I kept procrastinating about writing this blog—sorry, Matt!

I must say that I am completely impressed with Darnell’s overall grade improvement. He has really dug deep in order to find a way to improve his grades and his overall performance at school. There have been many accomplishments we have achieved as a team and there are many more we will conquer together.

We have done and learned so much from each other within these past six months. We have learned the good and the bad. One thing that Darnell is helping me with is the art of opening up. I can be a bit reserved at times; not a bad thing, but it can have its downfalls. A lot of times I can be stern, too. Darnell’s playfulness and youthfulness often bring out that side of me that sometimes an adult can lose or put away during the process of growing up. Being an adult is hard; it is no walk in the park. Imagine that as a kid I would say “I can’t wait until I become an adult.” WELL! LOL! It is not all bad!

I wanted to wrap up this post by saying that I am ridiculously proud of my committed partner, Darnell. He is really taking in what I am offering him and applying it to his life. I repeat to him how valuable his life is and how many people want to see him succeed. Darnell’s parents, teachers, counselors, siblings, my parents, my friends, and I especially want to see him succeed.

It’s such a huge blessing to be able to make a difference in someone’s life. I thank Dottie and Matt and all the other mentors and mentees for allocating time to benefit one another. Most importantly, I want to thank Darnell for being a blessing to me.

Side note: Darnell SWEARS he is a young boss. What is a young boss compared to a King? HA HA!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

...And then some

I checked in with Kurtis last week to see how things have been recently with him and his committed partner, Darnell. Kurtis had come up in conversation a few days before as I discussed the upcoming academic year with a school administrator. She couldn’t say enough about his interest and involvement in supporting Darnell’s progress last term, and looks forward to working with him again starting in August.

I called Kurtis to pass along a few school-related bits of information and to check in. I appreciate about Kurtis that when we talk, it’s not so I can verify that he’s meeting the baseline requirements for a Coaching for Success mentor. It’s more about catching up on what his “…and then some” looks like at the moment.

Kurtis is a student at Georgia State, and he never seems to lack for things to do. This summer, he’s taking a class and serving at a camp for 5- to 12-year-olds. He’ll be vacationing out of state soon, but he and Darnell have a plan in place for keeping tabs on one another.

Speaking of Darnell, he’s taking a class this summer, too. He and Kurtis have already spoken about what it’ll take to avoid landing in summer school next year. Kurtis is proud of the progress Darnell is making and feels good about his prospects for a successful 10th grade campaign.

What’s next on the agenda for this pair? Darnell is studying up on the driver manual Kurtis brought him and getting ready to apply for a learner permit. And the two will soon be putting their heads together to work on finding a job for Darnell.

This week’s post is a bit shorter than usual. Believe me, that’s not because I couldn’t muster 500 words in Kurtis’s behalf. It’s because I want to leave him a chance to tell you some things in his own words. That’s right, Kurtis asked if he could submit a post as a guest blogger in the near future. Stay tuned….


P.S.—If you’re a Coaching for Success mentor and you’d like to be a guest blogger, contact me. We all stand to benefit as more voices join the conversation.