Afternoons at a Community Renewal Friendship House helped turn Syborio Sabbath from a bully into a better person, a young leader who now has plans, goals and a desire to help others rather than hurt them.
“When I was younger I would mess with people and bully little kids. I just wasn’t thinking. I was immature and self-centered,” he said.
“I like the Friendship House because when I come here I feel good. I love it here. They teach us how to do the right thing and not the wrong thing.”
Syborio, 16, is finishing his freshman year this spring at Byrd High School, where he plays on the school basketball team and has aspirations for a basketball career. He lives with his family in Shreveport’s Highland neighborhood and started in the Kids Club at one Highland Friendship House and is now active in the Youth Club at the other Highland Friendship House.
“They make me a better person at the Friendship House and then I can help the younger kids do the right thing. They really care about us here. We’re like one big family and that is so good,” she said.
Caring relationships from the community coordinators who live in and run the programs at the Friendship Houses have made a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of teenagers, including Syborio. He has helped with service projects like neighborhood cleanups and food drives. And through all of these experiences, he is now growing into a responsible young man who is already thinking of ways he can give back to his community.
“He is becoming a leader and he sets an example for other boys. He knows what it’s like to be their age and he has risen to the call of being accountable as a young man in our club. Now younger kids in our club look up to him,” said community coordinator Deidra Robertson.
“We have an opportunity to expose these students to a life greater than any they have ever known. And we offer a level of stability for them.”
This summer Syborio plans not only to further his basketball skills, of course, but also to work on the Highland Youth Club lawn crew cutting grass for residents and also to attend the Kids Across America camp. And he will still consider the Friendship House his second home.
“I see Ms. Deidra as a second Mom. I love her. She helps me do the right thing. She helped me think of things I could do in life better than bullying people,” he said.
“I hope to get a college scholarship. I hope I can be a good basketball player and maybe play in the NBA. And I want to be a good husband to my wife. And then I want to help my family and show love to my community.”