12194907_998809050160120_6992280788922667970_oIn retrospect of my early teenage years, L.E.A.P has helped me to grow and mature into a young man. It is without a doubt that I can say I would not be the same person I am today if I had not participated in L.E.A.P. When my mother initially brought me to some of their activities I was very resistant; however, she continued to bring me to the activities and I am grateful she did. Before I became involved with L.E.A.P, I was not hanging out with the right type of kids in school. I was beginning to involve myself with the “wrong crowd of people” and heading down a dangerous path. L.E.A.P gave me something positive to do after school, not to mention yield countless opportunities.

During high school, The L.E.A.P organization blessed me with the opportunity to work at Manna Food Café, a soup kitchen located in downtown Clarksville. During this job, I learned an important value: Selfless service. Through giving free food to the homeless and impoverished people of Clarksville, I learned to place the value of other people above myself; something in my only child upbringing I had not let learned. I was able to serve food to innumerable people at the various soup kitchen locations in Clarksville. I talked to various individuals and their families, I listened to their stories and it gave me a better appreciation and compassion for life. Also, the job was designed to develop and demonstrate the value of good work ethic. The wage of the job started at minimum wage and increased up to $10/hour based on the employee’s work ethic and behavior. Needless to say, I really enjoyed working there and maxed out. Without L.E.A.P, I would have never had these experiences.

I was able to relate to a lot of kids of in the L.E.A.P program, many children grew up in single parent households similar to myself. The worst part of growing up in a single parent household is not the low socioeconomic background it is often accompanied by, but some of the unbalances in being raised. Mr. Garrett, A.K.A “Reason”, the creator of L.E.A.P, created a positive balanced atmosphere where young teenagers could grow and have more opportunities. Not only that, Reason was a positive male role model to myself and other young teenagers in the program.

I would like to thank Reason and everyone associated with L.E.A.P for helping young teenagers like myself. I graduated from Kenwood High School in May 2013. Currently, I am studying Pre-Physical Therapy at Tennessee State University on a Vanderbilt Army ROTC scholarship.

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