The Fishing School

The Fishing School

TFS 2016 Grand Slam Remarks by Executive Director Leo Givs

Good evening.  On behalf of our staff, volunteers, Board of Directors, and the 400 families we serve each day, thanks for coming out to support The Fishing School.  A special thanks to Shomari for stepping in as our MC tonight—give him another hand.

Recently I received a letter from the US Department of Justice notifying me that a particular young man was being released from prison.  The letter reminded me that five years ago, our office in Deanwood was burglarized by a group of young men not very much older than some of the boys in our after school program.  They lived in the community we serve.

I went to court and asked the judge to consider a sentence that would not ruin their lives… but I watched as the judge sentenced one of them—a skinny, baby-faced kid—to five years in prison for a crime against property.  Around that same time an employee of a major bank was sentenced to 27 months for stealing over $500,000.  So this letter reminded me of the inequities and injustices that exist in society today.  But it also reminded me that life is often about choices.

Those young men made a choice to do wrong.  So many Fishing School students grew up in that same community [and] probably went to school with those young men.  But with the support of adults at The Fishing School and a loving family at home, they made the choice to do right like tonight’s honoree Rachel Black—to graduate high school, go on to college, even to graduate school.  That letter also reminded me that some children also make the wrong choices because of adults, adults who have failed them.  Children who are often undereducated, unloved, unsupported, who grow up to be unemployed, living in a state of hopelessness. So what can you do?

Well, all of us here tonight also have the capacity to make a choice.  Dr. King was born in Atlanta, but he made a choice to go to Montgomery, Alabama to ignite the civil rights movement; Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia, but she made a choice to go to Calcutta, India to serve those most in need; our founder Tom Lewis is from North Carolina, but he made a choice to go to Wylie St. NE 26 years ago to start The Fishing School. Making certain all children have what they need for future success will require a movement!

Here is the good news: You don’t need a national or global platform to make a positive contribution to humanity. You can be of service wherever you are.  You can impact your little corner of the universe.  You can start your own movement Today!

So you see this work that we do at The Fishing School is my Montgomery, Alabama. It’s my Calcutta, India. It’s my Wylie St.  Please make a choice tonight, don’t be a bystander watching while so many children can use our help these days. Volunteer, donate, do whatever you can to help us make a difference in the lives of those we serve.  Thanks again for being here and we hope you enjoy the evening.