Two months in to my time here, and I continue to discover new things that both impress and surprise me about the Foundation. My story begins one afternoon when, after reviewing paperwork for our newest round of grantees, I asked my boss how many fields we have helped to build in the DC area. I was looking at documents from a handful of states, but I was curious whether we had any past grantees within the District.
Rather than just tell me about the work we’ve done with many local schools and organizations, she had the better idea to show me what we’ve done, and to hear from people in the community about the fields we’ve built and programs we support. And that is how I met Ernest Yombo, the Dean of Students at Bruce Monroe Elementary at Park View in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, DC.
Mr. Yombo approached with a gentle grin, and welcomed my boss and me into his office, which overlooks a beautiful school auditorium. Just beyond the school walls lies Park View, a city park with a state-of-the-art turf soccer field. The field receives incredible respect from the local community, and still looks as if it was built yesterday. There is not one flaw in the turf, not one piece of trash along the sidelines, no damaged equipment, graffiti, or broken glass. It is a source of pride at Bruce Monroe, and Mr. Yombo is its biggest cheerleader.
Mr. Yombo does not hide his emotions, and that became evident when he talked to me about their Soccer for Success afterschool program. Mr. Yombo speaks passionately about his students, as if he has dozens of sons and daughters. He is outside every day during Soccer for Success sessions, playing, teaching, and learning alongside the kids and the result of his work shows itself in the number of young students stopping by his office to say hello or visit with their Dean of Students throughout the day.
Day-to-day, the work I do at my fellowship is like any other desk job. But when I step outside and onto a pitch or meet someone like Mr. Yombo, there is a stark contrast when I see the end product of what I have done and will be doing. No matter how humble someone like Mr. Yombo appears, his influence on his school and its students is palpable. For every dollar that the Foundation provides to underserved communities, it is clear that no amount of money can match the power of people who work tirelessly to make an impact on young people.