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By Brian K. Powell /

With all the negative news circulating in our society today, it is understandable when we overlook the positive productivity of those who are often the most vilified. While briefly working at YouthWorks – a summer youth jobs program in Baltimore, I was privileged to meet some of the most dynamic, inspiring young people, and their families. I experienced my community loving on myself and each other.

Apologetic Cop: There was an incident one Saturday morning at the War Memorial Building where cars were parked blocking the exit of a city parking garage. Anyone who has ever taken a young person downtown in Baltimore on a Saturday to register for YouthWorks knows what I'm talking about concerning the lack of parking. A Baltimore City police officer came into the lobby absolutely livid that after working a double shift, he was unable to leave the garage. He began to rant and berate me for allowing people to just park anywhere. I shared with him that I clearly was assigned to a post inside and had no way of monitoring activity outside. I shared with him that I would be able to assist with finding the vehicle owners and get them to move expeditiously. That was unsatisfactory to him as he stormed out saying he would get everyone towed. 15 to 20 minutes later he returned and requested that he be able to apologize to me in front of everyone. He apologized and we hugged, I later wished I had gotten his name. Experiencing the white officer come back and right his wrong was like seeing a rose blooming in a concrete jungle of racism and bigotry.

Determined Youth: I met a young man and his mom who had applied for a YouthWorks summer job two previous summers with no success. Yet there they were - hopeful, polite, and he was dressed for success. He was determined that this was his summer. Truly a rose blooming in a concrete jungle of disappointment and rejection.

Compassionate Daughter: I experienced a teenage girl who was coming in for her job interview with a mother intoxicated and nodding. I watched her find somewhere for her mom to sit down (out of the way). She kissed her mom on the forehead and told her she would be back after the interview. The mother, who up to now had not uttered an understandable syllable, picked up her head and said, "good luck baby". Yes, our children are compassionate and empathetic. They are loving and respectable. Yes, there are roses growing in our concrete jungle!

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