The Power of a Heroic Mentor
From The ODA Blog
No one would have ever put the two of them together. Not in any place or any context. They are two men from different generations, different faiths and different races. Certainly, they come from two different Americas.
No, they weren't supposed to ever meet. They weren't supposed to teach and inspire one another. They weren't supposed to form a lifelong bond that has grown to include their families.
But come Monday morning at 6:30 a.m., the younger of the two will take his place in the American workforce in large measure because of the nurturing and persistence of the older man.
Don Sweeney is many things -- a family man, a devoted follower of Christ, a board member past and present with a hospital, a counseling service, a church, a college, and yes, Open Door America. Since retiring as a partner with Ernst & Young, Don has used his considerable accounting and management skills to help lots of organizations work better and smarter. He has chosen people over things, giving over taking, caring over indifference, and action over words.
Though he comes from the other side of the tracks, Kevin Branch is equally admirable. He is a devoted family man and a conscientious worker. That is, when he can find work. Like so many young men from the streets of East Baltimore, there have been bumps along the way that have had long-lasting consequences related to education and employment. Kevin will be the first to tell you he hasn't always made the best choices. But, he grew up in an America that few of us can really understand, and having survived that world, he has been looking for a chance -- any chance -- at redemption and renewal.
Since coming to Open Door America three years ago, Kevin has seen his fair share of ups and downs. Through lousy jobs and terrible employers, layoffs and evictions, and moments of deep family despair that would break most men, Kevin has persevered. He has kept his family together in spite of his infant daughter's health crisis. He has remained kind and gentle with his sweetheart and two older children despite enormous economic pressures and uncertainties.
Through it all, his close companion has been Mr. Don. There is little doubt in anyone's mind that without Don Sweeney's heroic involvement, Monday's "living wage" job would never have occurred for Kevin. There were just too many obstacles that needed to be hurdled. Too many setbacks that required a coach and a cheerleader. Kevin needed Don.
On October 20, 2014, Kevin begins his new life in the American workforce. Having been along for the ride, we will be watching with great interest and enthusiasm.
Stay tuned as we continue to follow this remarkable story of two lives that have intersected through Open Door America.
We're glad they met.
Open Door Baltimore, a nonprofit that fights poverty by working with businesses to provide living-wage jobs, is expanding beyond the beltway. To better reflect the organization’s larger mission, the board of directors recently approved a new identity and logo.Read More