**Again I need to apologize that there will be no pictures, we are still having some connection issues here and are unable to upload any pictures. Hopefully in Philly we will not have the same problem! **
WOW! Memphis is a beautiful city, full of incredible people! Kaki Crews drove us downtown this morning for Phiona and Robert’s interview on Channel 3 LIVE at 9 this morning. She pointed out several popular places in the downtown area as we drove through the city. We met Dr. Bullington (Dr. B )and his chess team from Douglass at the station, they were all on together, it was a great segment! Hopefully we will have the link soon so that those of you not in the Memphis area and missed it and can still watch. They all did wonderful!!
Dr. B offered to drive us to Douglass K-8 , giving us a tour of where exactly these students come from on our way to the school to visit with students. You can’t imagine the desolation and sense of loneliness you have when driving through some of these areas. What Douglass is doing with this chess program though, these kids come to school with confidence, learning manners, excelling at school and setting goals for their futures. They may in places right now that they cannot get out of, but they are an amazing bunch of children that you know we will all read about one day! Dr. B arranged for Robert and Phiona to stay put in the chess room and have several small groups of students come in and visit. This was worked out great because the children were able to speak to them and ask questions that were appropriate for each class and Robert and Phiona could speak to specific class levels. We saw probably 7 gourps of students and every one of them, walked into the room quietly, sat down, listened so respectfully and already knew the background of Phiona! When we first arrived and were walking to the chess room, Dr. B stopped by a few classes to say and hello and as soon as Robert and Phiona stepped in the rooms all of the kids yelled, “Phiona!! Katende!!” It was awesome! Dr. B, Mr. Howard and Principal Cable are an amazing team and we cannot wait to come back to Memphis soon to visit and learn more about the outstanding work they are doing here!
Following Douglass we headed down the way to Kingsbury Elementary to visit with another chess program that Dr. B helped get started. We worked with Principal Cramer, what an energetic, upbeat principal, you couldn’t help but get excited being around her! The children involved in the chess program were all in the library waiting for Robert and Phiona to arrive. All the children were so excited to meet Robert and Phiona, they listened so quietly and had some great questions! They even attempted to learn a few words in Luganda! At the end, Principal Cramer presented Robert and Phiona both with their own Kingsbury Chess Club tshirt and thank you cards.
Memphis has a very hard area that they are working with and trying to reach these kids through chess to pull them out of tough situations, give them hope. They are transforming lives everyday and it was so inspiring and exciting to see children that are being encouraged and learning to make better decisions everyday!
The day wasn’t over there either, we had the opportunity to have dinner with a sister and brother-in-law of some very close friends of Robert and Phiona from Santa Barbara! So, we all bundled in the car and headed for a quick bite before they needed to speak at Streets Missions. At dinner Robert, Phiona and Rodney were able to share the history of Sports Outreach and their individual roles, how they got involved, what they do now and where they hope to go! It was wonderful to meet an extension of a family they already love so much!
To end the evening, Streets Missions held an even where Sports Outreach was able to explain what exactly we do, how we do it and where we do it! It was so well received and Robert and Phiona were able to share their story to show how SOI directly changed Phiona’s life and what her story is. It was a casual, fun event that ended with a lot of new friends, cookies and punch! Sounds like three for three!
Tomorrow we will be able to have breakfast with John and Kaki Crews before we fly out to Philadelphia to hangout with Philly ASAP. Robert and Phiona will be sharing at a tournament held at Drexel University, visiting a school and she will have the opportunity to have a lesson!