Tonight's Making a Difference segment on NBC featured Coach Tim, a man who grew up in the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles. Compton is now known as a haven of drugs, gangs, and violence. When Coach Tim was growing up, he played baseball in Compton - on a baseball diamond that was abandoned decades ago. He returned to the neighborhood after years of his own troubles - drugs, alcohol - to revive that baseball diamond into his own field of dreams for kids growing up on the same streets where he was raised.
The segment was enough to make any viewer choke up with emotion - and then, the real kicker. Coach Tim is homeless. For two years, he's lived in his car. At night, he watches Dodgers games on his portable TV and reads the Bible for strength to get through another day. He could go to a shelter, though because he knows he got himself into his situation, he wants to get himself out of it without public assistance.
Those kids on his baseball team serve a larger purpose in his life - they give him a reason for being, for getting out into the world. They give him a way to do some good in a neighborhood that is faced with so much difficulty and saddness and loss. He's keeping those kids from going down a path that he and so many of his childhood friends took simply because they didn't know any better.
Coach Tim's story made me think about how much we all have to offer, regardless of our situation, means, and history. Or maybe, like Coach Tim, we all have something to give precisely because of our history and situation. To make a difference in your neighborhood, visit Volunteer Match, Serve.org, or United Way.