130 Boulevard NE
Atlanta, GA 30312
The kids at City of Refuge aren't your typical soccer players. They attend the after school activities at the campus which is housed in a former bakery distribution warehouse. After the afternoon activities, they walk across the driveway to their rooms in the transitional housing, where mothers and their children, all of whom are homeless, are working to get their lives back on track.
The lessons they are learning while playing soccer are much more than how to kick a ball. For the younger kids, it's about self-discipline, respect and getting along with others. For the teens, it's about being a leader and an example to their younger peers.
For James and Josh, it means the difference between learning what it takes to make it in the world and be successful or following the path of male relatives who have already found themselves in a downward spiral - self destruction and a life behind bars.
Even while facing a desperate situation and finding little reason for hope in her own case, their mother asked their coach and mentor to "look out for my boys." With a renewed resolve, their coach agreed that he would be there for them and help them choose the right path.
It's our job, our mission and our solemn promise to these kids that we will be there for them and empower them with the tools to lead a better life and choose a path that leads to independence and success.
And the icing on the cake is that their coaches and mentors were once in their shoes and now they are the leaders and front line warriors in the fight to save the next generation and get them to where they are now.
And the cycle continues ...