The genesis for the idea of City Kids, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dates back to when I was a kid, growing up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a suburb outside of Washington, DC. Early on, I had academic challenges. I realized that I didn't learn the same way that other kids did, so I felt different. Sitting in the classroom, taking class after-class, day-after-day, I did not feel I was absorbing the information. I had a difficult time staying still at my desk, trying to learn the traditional way. So, needless to say, I didn't have tremendous academic success.
Just like me, my father grew up in D.C, so he knew the community well. He sponsored people to help them with their struggle to confront their drug and alcohol addiction issues and in their desire to stay clean and sober. I would go with my father to the inner-city, which exposed me to an entirely different way-of-life. These experiences were some of my strongest memories, seeing how my father made a real impact in others' lives.
Because learning the traditional way wasn't working for me, my parents and I looked for a school that offered a more empirical experience. We found such a school in California that offered a nontraditional method of learning—a hands-on experience in the great outdoors. Although my surroundings changed, my personal challenges did not. Something clicked when I went to one particular school, a school that had an outdoor leadership program. I was exposed to group discussions, hiking, self-discovery and leadership programs. I uncovered skills within myself that I never knew existed and I finally found something that I could relate to. This program helped me feel like I finally fit in.
After college, most of my friends knew what they wanted to do as a career; however, I did not. All I knew was that I wanted to do something meaningful, something that I would enjoy and a way that I could give back to others in the community. This was an essential component.
In the beginning, I wasn't sure of my plans so I began to conceptualize my idea. Gradually I formed a more concrete concept and mission – "To help other boys and girls who are affected by life and persona