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He was being recruited by gangs. Instead he's graduating

"I never thought I could graduate from college. Mont Lawn Camp showed me I can."

ElijahMy name is Elijah, and I grew up in the Bronx around a lot of poverty and gang violence.

My mom raised me, my brothers and my sister. Dad was never around. At age 10, I got a job to help mom with money because there wasn't a lot to buy food. That's when people in the neighborhood started trying to get me into gangs and stuff like that.

A lady in our apartment building told mom about The Bowery Mission's Mont Lawn Camp. If it wasn't for the summers and mentorship I received there, I'd be in a gang or selling drugs to make a living.

Camp was a safe place that took me out of the bad environment with the shootouts and gang activity. It also helped me build my relationship with God and just be a kid.

I went to Mont Lawn Camp through my entire childhood! And now I've been a counselor for the past five. The stories kids tell remind me of my childhood. I received so much love from the counselors when I was younger, so it's really cool that I can do the same for these kids.

During the school year, I go to Nyack College and I graduate this December! Growing up like I did, I never thought that I could graduate from college, but Mont Lawn Camp showed me I can.

I'm getting my degree in Social Work. My goal is to get a job as a probation officer and eventually as a firefighter. But no matter what I do, I want to keep volunteering to help inner-city kids.

I am grateful to Mont Lawn Camp, because it took me away from the streets and showed me that I have a greater purpose with God in my life. They helped me become a better person and stronger leader. Thanks to Mont Lawn Camp, inner-city kids like me really can follow their dreams.

At-risk children who come to The Bowery Mission's Mont Lawn Camp, like Elijah, need security, love and direction as they mature and prepare for the future. Your gifts help make that happen. Thank you for your generosity.


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