The President

 

David J. Preston

President – Spring Enrichment 

My Purpose

     When I take a moment to look back on my life I can see just how much Spring Enrichment has been a clear reflection of my life. Most of my life has been shaped by activities often conducted by others. Some of my best friendships were forged through my involvement in sports. I’ve traveled nearly the entire United States, earned a free college education, had my first job, and most importantly, met Christ through sports. No one has to tell me how sports can affect the lives of youth because I know it for myself. That’s one of the reasons why I believe so strongly in this program. At Houston Baptist University I majored in both Sociology and Human Kinetics. My grand plan was to be the head coach and counselor at a high school. God, of course had another plan, and it all led to S.P.O.R.T.S. I now recognize how God prepared me through my work at Star Of Hope, where I developed a youth program involving sports, and my work at residential treatment centers in Houston and Atlanta where I worked with youth and coordinated activities.  After those experiences, I came to a point where I was directed to move out on faith and founded Spring Enrichment. At the outset I was much like Moses and didn’t realize I had the skills to accomplish this assignment. God had to show me several times that He had indeed given me this assignment. I quickly learned that God doesn’t call the qualified . . . He qualifies the called. After wrestling with the decision to quit my job, a job I loved, I had to trust God and His plan for my life. One day I returned home and looked in my “HBU” Bible. Coach Ron Cottrell of HBU gave all basketball graduates Bibles as graduation gifts, and it was in this Bible I found a letter I wrote to myself years ago which contained the structure of what today is Spring Enrichment. In such a difficult stage in life when I was questioning my purpose and God’s plan, I came across this prophetic letter. The letter included the name of the organization, the outline of the program, the moves to be made and in what order to make them. The letter at the time was 9 years old. The significance of it being written by me to me was to show that even 9 years earlier God had his plan in order. God’s plan was always in me and it was so clear that I wrote it down and placed it in that Bible. I knew then that Spring Enrichment was my purpose and that I could not deny it because it was written from my hand and my thoughts years before I worked at Star of Hope. My professional career exposed me to the vision of Spring Enrichment and my childhood exposed me to how activities can be used as
means to instruct, develop and inspire children
     I memorably received such benefits as when I was 8 years old and my parents moved us to the Aldine area of North Houston.
I met some great neighbors who played sports quite often on the street behind ours. It was there that I met my first “activity coordinators.” Their names were Edward and Phillip. They gathered all of the neighborhood kids and organized wild games of football, basketball, baseball, and anything else we could dream of and made it FUN. We learned the rules to the games, how to win and lose gracefully, how to end the day looking forward to the challenge of the next one, etc. I remember Phillip and Edward bringing home baseball batting helmets from Six Flags AstroWorld so we could choose a team to represent in our MLB All-Star game. Through the efforts of my first activity coordinators when our gang started playing little league football we were so advanced in the knowledge of the game that we instantly became the better players. We were catching passes with “two feet in” as pee-wee football players and we were the only team who actually threw passes as we went on to win the Superbowl that year. God truly blessed us with some wonderful neighbors in Edward and Phillip. While on a basketball road trip to San Antonio as a college athlete I ran into Edward and had a chance to say, “Thank You for your participation in my life as a youth.” It was really nice to show him how his time and investment into my life had really paid off. Spring Enrichment is partially a way for me to give back and honor Edward and Phillip’s investment in me by re-investing what they gave plus what I have since learned, and pass it on to another group of children.     The second part of Spring Enrichment resembles a neighborhood church program that was designed to invest in the
lives of the youth. The program was housed in a small church located about a half-mile away from our home. Every Thursday night, without fail, the church sponsored games and offered snacks. The church’s activity night was open to kids of all ages. My friends and I would walk in there every week, join a game and compete against teenagers. We’d practice all week to try to get closer to beating the teens which we never did until we had the adults on our side but they never let us leave with a defeated attitude or without hope that maybe . . . just maybe . . .next week we would win. Looking back I can see how the sports and games were the “bait” to get us there, but the true reason for inviting us centered around the 15-minute break. In this break we would have a couple of cookies, some punch, and a short devotion or receive a life-skill lesson from a speaker. The speakers told us stories of people in the Bible who overcame obstacles, hurts, and circumstances. There was Peter, Paul, Samson, and of course, Jesus. As an adult I CANNOT remember the score of a single game played there but I surely remember the lessons taught to us about Jesus and life in those 15 minutes. Hence, in Spring Enrichment’s programs, participants must attend the 30-minute life-skill class before their games because I know in the long run it is these short sessions that will have the most meaningful impact on their lives. Much like my work today, there were not always immediate results but seeds were planted as far as developing Christian character. As a result, my friends and I stopped killing wasps and pouring gasoline on ant beds, we didn’t totally refrain from mischief, but it was a start. That start eventually led to having a prayer life and being baptized back at my home church a couple of years later. Today I know that I have only to plant the seed of positive thoughts, good decisions, leadership by action, and many other life-skills into the lives of our participants and water those seeds through the actions of our staff, the referees, the volunteers, the coaches, and the facilities then watch as the harvest of our good work begins to take shape. The simple decision to try to talk out a problem using conflict resolution techniques before fighting is a major accomplishment for many of our participants. It is in these moments that we really have a chance to change the lives of the youth involved in our programs. It also gives the adults, as well as senior members of our program the opportunity to say, “I sat exactly where you are and had the same problems with others as you do but I am here to tell you . . . ” I value this opportunity and it drives me to push not only myself but our staff and volunteers harder to really instill in these kids that they are worth so much more than what life is giving them at the moment. Often times, because they are in state custody and feel alone, our RTC Sports kids feel unwanted but that’s hardly the case. WE WANT THEM. We have them and with your help we will keep them and in turn maybe one day they will fulfill their purpose and give back in an even greater way to those coming after them.

From an humbled heart,

David J. Preston – President, Spring Enrichment