REDEFINING SUCCESS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut How do you define success? How about having a busy, profitable medical practice? Martin Reichgut, a urologist in Bridgeport, Connecticut, had that kind of success. But Reichgut wasn't satisfied with that; he wanted something more, something that meant success for young people who might be headed toward failing, big time. Bridgeport is a small city, but it does have its problems, including an inner city that is rife with young people susceptible to crime, drugs, and violence. Reichgut wanted to help those young people, and he thought he saw the mechanism to do it: the Youth at Risk program of the Breakthrough Foundation was having success in big cities. He thought it could work in Bridgeport. The program selects at-risk youth and puts them through a one-year program, including 10 days at a camp site. Its objectives: · to produce a long term, measurable impact on the lives of both the youth in the program and the people with whom they associate · to prove conclusively that dealing effectively with youth who are at-risk is not a hopeless undertaking · to have a powerful, positive effect on local community agencies and schools serving at-risk youth · to demonstrate that a private, community-based, volunteer-intensive intervention is viable, sustainable, and repeatable · to open opportunities for people at the grassroots level to make a difference through their own positive actions Reichgut didn’t think it would be hopeless at all; it was certainly worth a shot. In Bridgeport, unlike in the huge cities where the program was operating, the participants would probably know each other. He figured that could be a plus. So he put a hold on his medical practice and set about raising awareness and money to bring in the program. He talked to everyone he could, got media coverage, spoke at community gatherings, met with business and social leaders, and developed alliances. He raised $250,000: enough to bring the program to town and bring in some young Bridgeporters. Youth at Risk has been a success in Bridgeport, just like it has been in larger cities. "We took 100 kids that most people had given up on,” says Reichgut, “kids referred by the courts and the social service agencies and kids that were not even doing well in alternative schools–and 67 percent of them made a well defined turn-around in that they stopped doing drugs or got jobs." That means 67 young people turned their lives toward “success"—because one adult decided success meant helping them make that change. Update: Dr. Reichgut finished up his career in urology in the year 2000, and then began teaching tai chi! This, too, became a journey into the world of service. "I was sent by my tai chi teacher to the West Haven VA Hospital to work with post-traumatic war veterans, and this led me to a Masters in Social Work and working with children and families for ten years.” Martin Reichgut lives, successfully, in Milford CT. Like this story? LIKE this Page! Share it with everybody you know who could use some inspiration.