Rudy’s Drive (National Volunteer Week 2012)

Rudy lives with his grandmother in a neighborhood that’s run by the gangs. He’s teetered on the edge of getting mixed up in it, which is hard not to when his cousin and friends are involved. He goes as far as hiding in his room and asking his grandmother to say that he’s been punished and can’t leave when people come to the door and ask for him.

Rudy’s found some semblance of peace in the eight-grade classes that I teach him, but the consequences of one wrong step or one missed opportunity are too large for most of us to comprehend. Once you’re swept up in the gangs, you don’t just “get out.”

Rudy came to me in a panic one day after school. We had a test on the Constitution planned for the following day, but there was a problem with his grandmother’s car and he couldn’t get across the city to school in time. I listened and we made a deal: if he could find a way to get here, I’d make sure he take that test and I’d drive him home.

He found a ride to school. He took his test. He earned a 90%. I dropped him off that afternoon.

That’s how it is with Rudy, myself, and the other Lasallian Volunteers who have taught him along the way. I go the extra mile for Rudy—or, in this case, I drive the extra miles with him.

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