Over a twenty year period over 1000 kids, 600 mentors, 200 tutors and staff have taken a journey from the City of Despair to the City of Destiny through the remarkable successful efforts of Operation Exodus Inner City (OE), an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program in Washington Heights and Inwood Heights in northern Manhattan.
This year OE is putting on an event about their work as it is inspired by the great journey stories of the exodus of the people of Israel out of Egypt, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Charles Dicken’s tale of a London boy rescued from child slavery and crime in his book Oliver Twist: a Parish Boy’s Progress, and the 19th Century popular stories of NYC journeys of rescued kids from the slums.
The Exodus event will be at Dillon Gallery in Chelsea at 555 W 25th Street from 7 to 9 pm on Thursday, May 20th.
The theme is an old one for New York City. The most popular song in our city during the 19th Century was “Where is your wandering boy, tonight?” and one of the most popular plays was a 800 foot rolling canvas designed by the famed Hudson Valley Art School with music and recitation of Pilgrim’s Progress. Over one-fourth of all New Yorkers went to see the play.
All New Yorkers are on the journey of their lives. Our city is also preparing for its future. guests at the exhibit from Lower Broadway come to the city to try to make their name and mark. For most it is quite a struggle with the help of education, mentors, and forgiveness for mistakes. The Operation Exodus kids from Upper Broadway in Washington Heights are also in a struggle for their lives. They face a different set of problems but often don’t have the benefit of the types of help that those who work in Lower Broadway have. Yet, the people on both Lower and Upper Broadway are important for the future of our city.
If Upper Broadway grows into a City of Despair, the habitability of New York City will decline and the workforce will become weak. Lower Manhattan will start to echo with the moving vans of companies leaving the city. Our character as a humane people will be shamed.
If we journey together, we will have a more meaningful life and more to rejoice about in the end. Our city will have a glorious future, not an unsettled one. Operation Exodus has had over twenty years on the road to the City of Destiny. Most of their kids walk on the path all the way to a fruitful life. We should all help our kids to make the journey of New York City a journey from the City of Despair to City of Destiny.
Think about a kid's journey in Washington Heights through bad schools, gang wars, poverty and chaotic family life and think about your own, what help you had and the thanks you owe.