2021-09-15 06:00:00
2021-10-17 16:00:00

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A Diamond in the Rough

A Diamond in the Rough

Things couldn’t keep up the way they were. I had to get out of my house.

Spring couldn’t come fast enough for 13-year-old Tony, because it meant the start of baseball season. Everyday he checked the weather, waiting for the big thaw. Once the snow melted, he would grab his glove, his ball, and his bat and head to the park for pickup games with his friends. 

All winter long, Tony dreamed about warmer days when he could stay out until dark playing catch or taking batting practice. It wasn’t so much that he disliked winter, he just hated being cooped up with his family because their home wasn’t safe. His parents fought all the time, and things often got physical. 

When he was younger, Tony tried to ignore the yelling by hiding in his room. Now that he was older, he had started defending his mother when his father was drunk and violent, but that often left him battered and bruised. 

That’s why spring baseball was so important to him. It gave him the chance to temporarily escape his turbulent home life. He liked the rules and order of baseball. He even liked the slow pace of the game because it gave him time to think and breathe. At home, Tony’s life felt chaotic and full of anxiety, so he relished any chance to slow down.

A couple years ago, Tony was the star shortstop on his Little League team. He never missed a practice or a game, even though he had to travel an hour each way on public transportation. Tony’s dedication, skill, and leadership impressed his coach. 

But during one game on a hot summer day, his coach noticed that Tony looked overheated and listless. Tony was wearing a long-sleeved undershirt, while other kids wore short-sleeved t-shirts. His coach called Tony into the dugout and suggested he pull up his sleeves to cool off. Tony reluctantly agreed, and that’s when his coach saw the bruises.

After the game, Tony’s coach gave him a ride home and asked if everything was OK at home. He wanted to know where the bruises came from. Tony felt ashamed, but then broke down in tears and told his coach the truth. That’s when his coach told him about Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, where he was a volunteer tutor. 

“Things couldn’t keep up the way they were. I had to get out of my house,” said Tony. “So when Coach told me about Mercy Home, I felt it was somewhere I needed to be.” 

People at Mercy Home and people like my coach really showed me a better way to live. I used to be surrounded by violence, but now I’m surrounded by kindness. It feels better than good. It feels right.

When Tony moved in with us, he decorated his room with posters of his favorite baseball players. Although he made friends easily, he still felt a sense of shame about the abuse and trauma he experienced. At first, he remained silent during group therapy. 

“But once I heard other kids like me share their backstories, I realized that others have been through the same things I have,” Tony said. “I didn’t feel like I had to hide my secret anymore because people at Mercy Home understand, especially the guys I live with.” 

These days, Tony says he feels complete. He’s doing well in school and he even joined Mercy Home’s Youth Advisory Board, which gives our young people a voice in matters about the Home. Tony’s first order of business was organizing a weekend baseball camp so his peers could brush up on the  fundamentals of the game. He even convinced his former coach to help facilitate the camp. 

“Growing up, I never had a lot of role models in my life who I looked up to,” Tony said. “But people at Mercy Home and people like my coach really showed me a better way to live. I used to be surrounded by violence, but now I’m surrounded by kindness. It feels better than good. It feels right.” 

Thanks to your generosity, kids like Tony have a place to heal from the years of trauma they endured. Our Home gives them a sense of freedom to finally let go of the burdens they’ve been carrying for so long. We are so grateful for your friendship and dedication to our boys and girls. Your compassion gives them confidence and the self-awareness to truly step up to the plate and swing for the fences. 

Please note: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.

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