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published April 19, 2010

Kevin – Pastor, Coach and Mentor

This is the fourth installment of our focus on Breakthrough’s Network Model.

Kevin understands the great need for volunteers in East Garfield Park who are constructive and caring. A long time Breakthrough volunteer in the Youth & Family Services program, he shares, “Generations of racism and injustice have taken a toll on many of the positive adults in our community. They are here, but they are tired. They work long hours just to pay the bills and still try to put in extra time as parents to counteract the many negative influences on their children. They deal with being underpaid and underappreciated at work. Lack of money and options drain the strength from our positive adult role models.”

As an East Garfield Park resident and involved community member, Kevin has a strong working knowledge of the struggles that his neighbors and friends have faced for generations. He and his family have lived in the community for several years, joining families who are weary after so many years of trying to create a better life for themselves. His wife, Lisa, is on staff at Breakthrough. Kevin works at another organization that helps urban youth prepare for college and gain scholarship opportunities. Together, they helped plant Lighthouse Christian Fellowship (LCF), a neighborhood church, in 2002.

Although he and his family are fully immersed in helping their community, Kevin knows that volunteers of all types are valuable if they serve with the right attitude. “I believe that everybody has something to offer. The biggest need is a willingness to serve,” he says. “You don’t want to come in and dictate what YOU want to do…but be humble, willing to learn from others and willing to serve where you are needed. A person who is humble and a servant is a much greater resource than a person with great skills who wants to do things their own way.”

Kevin has volunteered at Breakthrough as a sports coach, mentor and Bible study teacher. That’s where he first met Lamar. “Lamar was in the 5th grade. I met he and his mother at their home and invited him to play on Breakthrough’s soccer team.”

Over the years, Kevin and his family have become an important part of Lamar’s network of support. Lamar attends LCF, where Kevin pastors. He has taken trips with Kevin’s family. The two have worked together. Kevin has visited members of Lamar’s family in the hospital, he has helped Lamar with his studies, and taken the young man to visit colleges.

“Part of the reason that I am who I am today is because God provided networks of support for me. Networks offer people options,” says Kevin. “The African proverb is quite true: it takes a village to raise a child. This is true everywhere, although not everyone grows up with lots of support intact.”

But Kevin concedes that it takes more than support to create success. He has seen Lamar grow up to take advantage of positive opportunities. “Lamar’s decision to follow Christ has given him a direction and a purpose. His greatest maturing revolves around his desire and willingness to be more like Jesus. This has taught him to forgive, love, be bold and be fearless,” says Kevin. “Lamar is gracious and a peacemaker. He seeks to understand people and their perspective instead of judging. He is also not ashamed of his faith and beliefs.”