On a vacation week, 80 young men and women, students at Douglass High School, are making a difference for their neighborhood. Local 24’s Mike Matthews says if they are the future of this city, Memphis is in good hands.
This is work, hard work. For about eighty Douglass High School students, it is work they want to do.
They are sawing and cutting and painting plywood boards that will be used to board up eight vacant homes in the Heights and Douglas neighborhoods.
Several groups started what is called “Spring Break Board Up” three years ago. They worked on two houses that first year, five last year, and eight this year.
It’s the first time Douglass High School junior Moko Ali has been involved. “I really think it’s a good experience for us kids to help our community,” Moko says, “…to make it better.”
If you think the future of Memphis is doomed because of young folks, filled with hate and rage, who want to express their emotions with bullets, you need to meet students like Gonzalo Rivas, who credits the streets ministries with turning his 19-year-old life around.
“We love each other,” he says. “We don’t think about, you know, he’s Black, he’s White, Hispanic, yellow, green, we don’t care about the color. We are here on a mission. and that mission is to help the community as well as become more as one as a person, and that’s the ultimate goal in life, to become more in unison.”
You have to look, to find Douglass High.
What you’ll find is a high school in a section of Memphis that has seen better days, filled with students who are determined to make sure their better days are ahead.
Once the plywood boards are cut, they are moved to an area where the creative juices of Douglass High students really start to bubble. Jaimee Yancee doesn’t see a board, she sees a canvas, a place where she can create modern art in the style of Jackson Pollock. Art her entire neighborhood will see. “I’m going to feel like I accomplished what I came to do,” she said, “… and that’s make a difference.”
In case you’re wondering, Moko Ali wants to be a Doctor or chemical engineer.
Gonzalo Rivas plans on either entering the military or going to a technical school to be a diesel engine mechanic.