The Side Unseen

These are the stories that will never make the news, but happen all the time. 


In 2001, I was a JuvenileInvestigator in South L.A. Many frustrated parents would bring their wayward daughters and sons to my two partners and I to council. The area I served at the time was a place of little hope for many youth in the area.  

It seemed like every block was controlled by a different gang, and it was a very violent time. Kids had little choice but to fall to the temptation of one thing or another. 

Once a single mother brought her daughter to me. She feared her child was in danger from hanging around gangsters all day. She was a "straight A" student whose grades began to slip as a result of her choices. She had no father. 

Thankfully, she never tried drugs. Not even weed. The only barrier I had to hurdle was her attitude, which was brought on by a heavy indoctrination to not trust the "PO PO" as she called us. Her mom would force her to come meet with me once a week. Of course, her guard was up. After all, I was an L.A. Cop. We weren't too popular in that area. 

One day as she sat with her arms folded in defiant silence, I began to encourage her. I told her that she was not born to fail. Everything about her at her age was about growth in mind body and soul. In a very stern but caring manner, I told her that her current choices were stunting that growth.

I noticed she was muscular. Sort of like a ballerina or a gymnast. I asked if she ever thought about taking up dance. She smiled and said, "How did you know I used to dance?" I jokingly told her that cops know everything. 

I found my window to try to reach her. A few more meetings went by and she opened up about boys, her fears, and her lack of self confidence. It got to the point where her mom did not have to drop her off. She would just drop in on me on her own. Meeting with her interfered with my other duties, but I did not care. I was reaching one. 

Her grades began to pick up again. I don't think there was anything special I did. I just gave her something she needed; time from a positive male adult figure that would not abandon her or abuse her. 

She and her mother moved out of the area as I suggested to a much nicer part of Los Angeles, where she began to thrive. 

I was so proud of her progress. Later that year, she spent the night at her friend’s home. Her friend's father harmed her in the middle of the night. 

The next day her mom called me and told me. I was devastated. Her mom said she would not talk to any officer but me. It was out of my jurisdiction, but I had to go. My boss gave me the blessing and I responded. 

Upon arrival at the station, I saw the young lady. She was broken. Laughing in disbelief over what happened as tears streamed down her face. I was able to get her to cooperate with the officers. 

I tried to hug her, but being a young cop at the time, I did not realize that it was the last thing she needed at the time. Especially from a man. She thanked me though. But I never heard from her again. I did hear from her mom who said that she fell back into her old ways. By this time, she refused to come see me. She probably hated me for pumping hope into her, only for some bastard to tear it away in a single night. 

Years would go by, and she stayed on my mind as I went back to Skid Row. I always prayed for a second chance to reach children. The answer came as I met the children of the Union Rescue Mission. It was there, with the blessing of one of my heroes Reverend Andy Bales, I reached out to these kids and started the "Just Like U" mentor program. 

It was my second chance and it has been a blessing to reach out to hundreds of kids over the years in various parts of L.A. 

The point of this story is that the young lady who I counseled may have been a victim who I could not save. But she is a hero and she does not know it. Because she was the reason I went on to help tell other kids that they can be greater than their circumstance. 

I just wanted to encourage you all not to allow failure and heartbreak to stop you from caring. Don't allow a failed attempt to cause you to quit on whatever target group you are trying to help. 

Sometimes that one failure is preparing you for your purpose.  

God bless.