Syracuse – New York State – Part 1

by James Fawcett April 28, 2015 A

This week I met the ‘sock man’ of Syracuse. I named him that -this is not a self-proclaimed name from a very humble man – in fact he gave me a pair (pictured above).

Nate Peña is the director of Pass Da Rock and this is what his website says about it:

Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K. is a local non-profit organization whose vision is to model the love of Christ within the context of a positive and non-threatening environment. We strive to make a difference in the lives of under-resourced youth by providing an alternative to the streets and creating an environment where the participants can be blessed just for being themselves. This is accomplished by providing safe sporting activities. These events encourage our participants to be physically active while demonstrating good sportsmanship with their peers. These events also allow our adults leaders the opportunity to build strong relationships with the youth and be a positive influence in their lives. The main activity of the group, since starting in Syracuse in 2001, is an organized monthly event centered on open basketball competition for middle school and high school aged youth. This event also includes free food, drinks, and prizes for the participants. In addition to the monthly event, Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K. also organizes basketball tournaments, leagues, and group outings.

There is so much that Nate and his team do but for me it was summed up in the socks. Each week the team have a prize table that young people can choose something from – it is filled with things that the young people might need – and it’s always the socks that go first. The philosophy behind the socks is that they are considered a luxury fashion item – particularly the ones that Nate gives away. These cost around $20 and the young people would not be able to afford them, so Nate gives them away. In doing so he doesn’t just give away socks, he gives them status in a world where what you wear not only matters – but for some of these young people its all they have. I was inspired by the lavish nature of this act, it’s a token of generous love. Of course some of the congregation of his church ask Nate why they need to buy $20 socks when Walmart sells 5 for $5. But this act of giving away $20 socks values the young people, it shows them love. It reminded me of the woman that washes Jesus’ feet with the expensive oil (Mark 14: 1-10). This women does not use oil because Jesus’ feet need a clean – water would have done the job! The oil was used as a lavish act that blessed Jesus and proclaimed love and Jesus’ worthiness. Nate is blessing the young people because they are worthy to be blessed; they have the same value as him and as his own children, and his example is to treat them in that way.

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