OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The late Pastor Ty Schenzel, the founder of the Hope Center for Kids, always said his dream was to see one of the young people who took part in the program return to lead it.
And now - in a way - that dream is a reality.
The halls of the Hope Center are familiar to DeJuan Reddick. It was there that he got involved with the Omaha Boys Club at just 8 years old.
“This was the place to be," Reddick said, recalling his time there. "All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to come.”
The club was where he was able to play basketball and make life-long connections.
“I made some great friends here, some people that I’m still friends with, that I call and check in on, on a regular basis," Reddick said.
Now over three decades later, Reddick is back, this time as the new executive director of the Hope Center for Kids which now occupies the building.
Love this quote from DeJuan Reddick, the new executive director of @HopeCenterNE!— Jessika Eidson KMTV (@JessikaEidsonTV) August 12, 2021
I asked him what it's like taking on this new role as the community is still facing some uncertainty because of the pandemic.
Learn about his journey to leadership and plans at 10. @3NewsNowOmaha pic.twitter.com/cbDvqAiZWD
“My passion is truly working with kids that want to succeed and go beyond what their current set of circumstances are," Reddick said.
Reddick knows how important it is for children to have mentors, having had several point him down the right path throughout his own life. Men like his uncle and grandfather, as well as a few in the community like Chris Wiley and John Huebscher.
“I think that was probably the biggest seed that was planted," Reddick said. "That I had positive people in my life giving back.”
And all around him are reminders to continue that work at the Hope Center.
“It's interesting walking into the building and there is a spot in the arts center that still has the old Boys Club tile," Reddick said. "So that tile reminds me constantly that legacy is important. This building has history, it also reminds me that I need to keep up that legacy of the Schenzels. And I want to create a legacy that is for the work I'm going to be doing."
His vision moving forward as the Hope Center’s new leader is to create a place in the community that everyone can feel a part of especially during these uncertain times.
“It’s a perfect opportunity," Reddick said. "Hope is something that once you give it to somebody, it can be the most dangerous thing in the world. You give hope to the hopeless and watch what they’re able to do.”
Right now, Reddick is wanting to ramp up their Employment and Learning Academy which helps young people explore trade options, and focus on providing a lot of sports opportunities for the community.