College of the Holy Cross is implementing an innovative social justice project called “Holy Ballers.” The “ballers-model” is a project focused on “peer-to-peer mentorship of residents within the juvenile detention system. The goals of the program include reducing the recidivism rate and showing residents that they are valuable to society and their future is not determined by their past mistakes.” The “ballers-model” began at John Carroll University, and sophomore political science major Riley Benner brought this model to Holy Cross.
Benner introduced the model to his high school and knew that when he arrived at college he wanted to start a chapter there as well. When Benner approached Marty Kelly, associate chaplain and adviser to Student Programs for Urban Development, he was nothing short of excited. After the program was launched, Holy Cross students took great interest and Benner recruited 15 volunteers through a rigorous application process.
Three days a week, six Holy Cross students visit the juvenile detention center in Worcester to play basketball with residents. They then share a meal together and simply talk. Benner explains, “We’re not there to serve the boys; we’re not there to teach them what it means to be a good citizen, or to lecture them on the classifications of a Massachusetts felony. We’re there simply to be together, to be one. We don’t hold a bar up and ask any of them to measure up; we simply show up. And we tell them the truth. The truth that they are exactly what God had in mind when God made them. And we watch as they become that truth.”
To read more about Holy Ballers, visit Holy Cross news.