Blog: 31 May 2012

Thursday, May 31

Carl Only a few people now at UrbanPromise remember Keith Fitzpatrick. I recall Keith as a lanky 19-year-old, topped with a handsome mop of blond hair, who spoke with a funny accent. Keith was from Northern Ireland. It was the summer of 1994. Keith had volunteered to work within our Summer Internship Program—eight weeks of intense missionary service in the heart of Camden. Keith paid for his own flight across the Atlantic, lived communally with 70 other college-aged students in Camden, ate impressive amounts of Oodles of Noodles, ran summer day camps, and loved our children in the name of Jesus. He was well liked. Keith returned to his university at the end of the summer, and over the years, the funny-accented teen became a distant memory for most at UrbanPromise. But one of our “camp kids” would never forget Keith. Carl Clark lived in one of the notorious housing projects in East Camden—a neighborhood known for rampant drug and gang activity. His mother did the best she could to provide for her son, but was diagnosed with cancer during Carl’s childhood. intern_pic“Things were tough,” Carl recalls. “My mom was out of work. There was no money for clothes, school supplies; sometimes nothing for food.” DONATE NOW But Keith Fitzpatrick—whose heart had been transformed by his Camden experience—continued to support Carl from afar. “Keith started sending me money for school supplies and food,” Carl said. “He’d always enclose a few Bible verses and words of encouragement: ‘Never give up.’ ‘Keep the faith.’” Despite his family’s struggles, Carl followed Keith’s advice. He never gave up. He graduated from high school, attended The College of New Jersey and studied finance, and went on to work as a banker for 10 years. But 18 months ago, Carl resigned from his banking job and began a new UrbanPromise site in Trenton, New Jersey. Through innovative and engaging programming, Carl has already impacted hundreds of young lives with his after-school and summer camps. Carl attributes a large part of his vocational shift to Keith: “I want to give the children of Trenton what Keith gave me—hope, encouragement, and an example of what it means to live a Christian life.”

Subscribe to Blog: 31 May 2012