Mark Hayward's City Matters: Doing the work, making a difference
There were drive-by shootings. Some of his friends were in gangs. Many lacked confidence in school.
Despite his hardscrabble early years, the 24-year-old may be the best opportunity to get a struggling child at Gossler Park School on the right track.
Clad in red shirts, they are at school before the school bell rings and they remain to run after-school programs once the teachers leave. Ten hour days are common for them.
"They want to test you out, make sure you are what you say you are," he said.
"Any positive influence they have in our building is OK with me," Dubois said. She said City Year volunteers work on attendance, student behavior, course work and parental involvement — duties that aren't the responsibility of paraprofessionals.
Gatsas said they'll succeeded if they turn around the life of one child.
"Nothing can be as important to a child as knowing somebody believes in them," he said.
Merritt said a year of City Year prepared him for the working world. He shakes hands. He makes eye contact with others. He is confident in his speech.
Mark Hayward's City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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