Too often, when communities need financial help to realize their vision for lasting change, the story that gets told is a bad one. Bad stories play on our emotions, our sense of being needed, our vanity of believing we are the only ones who can help. The problem is the narrative doesn’t stop there.
Bad stories beget more bad stories as new funds or new projects are needed. Communities become places where only bad stories happen, so desperate and hopeless and always in need. Communities aren’t places where lives and dreams are changing, hope is being realized, and the community itself has the power to shape its future.
Kensington, Philadelphia had so many bad stories told about it, it became known as the Badlands. Nes Espinosa and the leaders of Timoteo are about telling lasting, good stories, the stories of Kensington, the stories of hope.
Through partnerships with local churches and organizations, Timoteo empowers adults to mentor youth with athletics and spiritual formation in Philadelphia. Timoteo “seeks the joy of the city” through an extensive and dynamic network of mentors and youth, chiefly connected through flag football leagues. (Learn more) Committed to the good of the community, Timoteo is focused in areas where school dropout rates are 60%. Worse, of those who dropout, 90% end up in juvenile detention. (Source)
The community is in desperate need of its young men to have positive and dynamic role models who see them as neighbors, friends, and sons, not projects. Nes Espinosa, former Executive Director and current Director of Partnerships, describes the work of Timoteo as being chiefly concerned with never leaving a young man feeling abandoned. Though Timoteo builds character, sportsmanship, integrity, and a healthy lifestyle though flag football, what lasts are the relationships between mentors and youth, the consistent presence that can be counted on and the sense of worth.
Founded in 2004 and followed by a first game of flag football with twelve mentoring coaches and over forty youth, Timoteo has grown to over 200 youth and over 120 adults playing in two separate leagues, along with plans to employ 70 people through the course of a year. More than that, Timoteo hosts a summer camp where older youth are employed to serve as counselors for younger youth, emphasizing the importance of standing ground, investing in the next generation, and committing to changing the narrative about Kensington.
Too, Timoteo places emphasis on education, both in skills and trade and in opportunities for college. Through a partnership with Simple Way and Eastern University, Timoteo has sent former players to college. Knowing the particular needs of each youth, Timoteo also creates partnerships with local businesses and organizations to create employment opportunities. Timoteo’s heart is equipping the next generation for the sake of equipping the one after.
Nes’s favorite thing about Timoteo is what he refers to as “recycling leaders". Too often, people who have opportunities to advance do so and leave their community behind. Timoteo has a proven track record of reciprocity. Former youth players return as coaches and mentors, become trained as referees, or become advocates for the organization to the larger community. In a city where the high school graduation rate is 45% for African American males and 43% for Latino males, this is evidence of profound change and revitalization. Timoteo is mentoring the leaders of today for the sake of the leaders of tomorrow.
By giving to this campaign, you are saying you believe good stories are worth telling. You are saying that youth deserve good mentors, to be seen as valuable and worthy. Every dollar you give creates a job opportunity, extends the capacity of the leagues, pays for equipment, provides scholarships, empowers the young men of the “Badlands” to say they are from Kensington and to say it with pride. Invest in Kensington, invest in good stories, invest in Timoteo.
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