Michael Osemwengie, Homework Helper

I met Daniel Rosero, a member of the Queens Defenders Outreach Team, the first time I participated in a Youth Justice Court at the Queens Library. At that time, my life was kind of crazy.  I was hanging out with the wrong crew, my phone was stolen, and I had decided that was going to be it. I wanted to change my life, make better decisions, get off the wrong path.

I found the Rockaway Outreach Center and asked Dan Rosero what I could do there. All of the staff supported me: Mr. Parsee, Brandon, Daniel, Susana, and more. They offered me a volunteer role helping kids with their homework.

During the summer I dressed up as Elmo for the Domestic Violence Awareness BBQ.  The costume was big, and it was a hot day… I am not going to lie, it wasn’t fun. But that did not matter, I had a purpose in mind, so I just kept my focus on that.

My fear about getting a job was that I get upset and angry easily. Life has not been easy for me and it’s been very hard for me to open up. Daniel had a strategy for me: whenever I felt anger or distress coming on, we would go for a walk around the block. He would remind me of my goals and ask me to breathe deeply to calm down. I do not have these outbursts anymore. I am so happy about this.

One day on one of our walks, Daniel gave me a sheet of paper that listed the steps I need to take:

1) You have to have self-control

2) Good Attitude

3) Stop being in your own mind all the time.

I put this in practice and I see now that there are other ways to get through life. As I am writing this, I will be honest – I am happy, I am proud of myself, I am Mike on Top, you already know, I learn something every day.

Even though my mom is no longer here with me, she is with me all the time, just looking down on me. I cannot use that as an excuse by saying, “oh I miss my mom” and feeling bad about myself, I know she is up there, she is looking at her son Mike on Top, you already know. I cry sometimes – there is nothing wrong about crying. I think it’s good to let it out, it’s good to express yourself.

I want to put Far Rockaway on the radar, because it is not an easy place to live in.  Queens Defenders turned my life around. This is my family, the people I look up to.  I feel like something changed in me, something that now I carry, no matter where I go it is in me.

I am so thankful for a lot of things right now. I am thankful for another day, for my job. As a youth leader and a mentor, I have to show what I am really about everywhere I go. Every time I have my Queens Defenders shirt on, I am dedicated, I am part of the team, I feel good because I earned it, I worked hard for it, and I got it.

When I feel like giving up, I say to myself “my community depends on me, they need my help, people are suffering.”  Everywhere I go, I see it: people are fighting with each other. It is sad. I am so happy that we work together at Queens Defenders to change this. We don’t need violence, we just need happiness and love, and to be thankful for everything.