We were given a list of different organizations we could volunteer with and many of them had representatives come and talk to us about their program. After hearing about them all, we then had to sign up for a specific one to work with and what day and time each week we would be attending.
Today Alfred came and talked to us about his program. This man blew me away. This is his story...
Alfred grew up in a family that he stated was "the poster family for welfare." They had it tough to say the least. His father was abusive to his mother, but she eventually escaped with her children. When he was 5, his mom remarried into a relationship that also eventually became abusive. He wasn't happy and Alfred starting acting out and became involved with gangs and drugs and things of that nature at age 11. He told of witnessing multiple friends get murdered in different ways, of all the drugs, and the depression and emptiness he felt.
He thought everything would be fixed if he found his real dad and somehow got his parents back together. To his dismay, when he found his father he was a homeless alcoholic who had lost a leg from getting run over by a train because he passed out drunk on a train tack.
His hope of finding happiness again was gone.
One day, he saw this older man walking around his neighborhood who did not look like he belonged there. It was a 60-year-old man in funny clothing who had left his home and comfort zone, to come to this new place and try to make a difference. He started by simply walking around the streets cleaning off graffiti and helping people with anything they needed.
Alfred heard he was a nice guy so he decided to go to talk to him. This man got to know Alfred and told him he was worth something and of value, which is not something he had ever been told before.
This man changed Alfred's life and because of all he went through and the impact this man had on his life, he decided he was going to give back.
Alfred and his wife started this organization called the Dream Center. Basically they help troubled teens and they also give classes to the parents about empowerment and how to help their struggling children. If started off with just volunteers tutoring the children in math in science, but it has evolved so much in the past few years. Now they have their own arts academy (complete with dance classes, instrument lessons, and their own Glee Club) and he even remodeled an old trailer and set up a mobile doctors office so that families can receive free medical care that travels to them. Everything is free for the community and the most incredible thing to me was that even Alfred himself is strictly a volunteer.
The Dream Center was nominated and selected to receive a brand new multi-million dollar building that will be done by Extreme Home Makeover. Real Salt Lake is going to donate and provide an indoor soccer arena for the kids. (To learn more about the Dream Center, click here.)
This man was incredible. I looked around the classroom and there wasn't a dry eye. His story was so moving and he taught me so much about love and charity.
There need to be more people like Alfred. He wanted to make a difference and so he did. He is changing the world.