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David’s World Grows Bigger At Odum Home

February 23, 2007

By W. James Edminson

Recreation director Merlon Caple calls the boys together. The gym is loud. The other Odum Home residents and staff members are cheering the team. In the center of the huddle is seventeen-year-old David.

The team was his idea.

“I had been talking about a basketball team,” he says. “We all wanted to play. It was just talking it up until we got a team together.”

The boys practice every day. They play teams from other Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) campuses and community church teams. The games strengthen the boys’ relationships as they work together.

“At first we weren’t very good,” he confides. “After our first loss, we began to pull together as a team. We began to listen to the coach and were more serious.”

David has come a long way from the first day he arrived at the Pembroke campus a little more than a year ago.

“At first David didn’t want to be around others,” BCH child care worker Pam Hailey says. “He has a tendency to withdraw. Everything was about him, but it’s different now.”

In fact, David even volunteers to help the new boys in his cottage when they first arrive. He shows them the ropes and lends his advice. “I tell them to focus on what you got to do. I want them to like me. I want to be a person they can talk to – a role model.”

David has prospered with a strong support system. Caring staff members nurture David while making him accountable.

“It feels good knowing there is someone there for me,” he says. “Everyone here shows me that they care. I’m feeling like I’m not being left behind.”

The world David left behind was wide open, yet he felt like it was closing in around him. He was hanging out with a crowd that was pulling him down. He was skipping school and flirting with a dangerous lifestyle.

“Here it is different,” he announces. “They’ll teach you things you need. They push me to do good things.”

Running with the wrong people is a thing of his past. “I don’t want to follow the crowd any more. I want to do what I’ve learned. I think I have what it takes to do it now.”

David can see himself helping others in the future. He talks about directing a residential school for children who struggle at public schools. He even thinks about becoming a child care worker like Hailey.

“I could be a good child care worker,” he contemplates. “I feel I can relate. I’ve been through some of the same things.”

David also has an interest in business. “I plan on doing it big. I see myself as successful.” There is no lack of belief in David at Odum Home. “He has a big heart,” Hailey says. “He is full of potential.”

David believes he can finish high school and he plans on attending college. He knows that there are many people who have made all the things he enjoys possible and he is eager to express his gratitude.

“Before I wanted to be by myself,” he declares. “Now my world is bigger. I have more opportunities – thank you.”