Reconcile Grad Addresses the White House
On June 4th 2012, Ryan Dalton stood at a podium at the White House in Washington D.C., addressing a room full of council members. He was there as one of three selected representatives of the National Youth Leadership Council to speak to his personal experience as a “disconnected youth” and to share his own ideas on how to enact change. At twenty-three years old, Ryan has come an incredible distance from his days on the streets and it is clear that he will only continue to soar in the years to come.
Ryan grew up in the Eighth Ward of New Orleans. After graduating Frederick Douglas High School in 2007, he found himself trapped in a crime-ridden neighborhood wrought with poverty and violence. He has been shot, faced homelessness, spent time in prison, and lost two family members to murder. So when Ryan’s sister recommended he look into the Cafe Reconcile program, his application was his last hope.
Ryan completed the culinary training program in 2009. Spurred by the desire to share his new outlook on life, Ryan returned to Reconcile as the primary Floor Trainer, where he has been working for two years. He is an apt teacher, speaking to students with an honesty that can only come from someone who has once walked in their shoes.
Ryan is now raising three children and he is enrolled in classes at the Southern University at New Orleans to earn a degree in business. In addition to speaking at the White House, he was recently named a winner of Bon Jovi’s “Spark Action” challenge, an honor that will supply him with the seed money and resources to create his own nonprofit program, The P.U.S.H. Project.
The P.U.S.H. (perseverance, understanding, success, and healing) Project seeks to take advantage of already-existing and underutilized parks by transforming them into places of education and recreation for young adults in the city of New Orleans. When asked what was the catalyst that drove him to create the P.U.S.H. Project, Ryan responded: “my whole life.” After his brother’s murder at the beginning of this year, Ryan was given the book “God’s Calling” by a Reconcile board member. After reading it, he realized that now that he is able to stand on his own two feet, “it’s time to give back” and help others achieve the same independence.
The Reconcile family is proud to call Ryan one of our own and we look forward to watching him continue to inspire as he works to fight poverty, violence, and fear by his own initiative.