“I am sorry, Malden, I think I may be partially to blame for the violence in this city.”

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by 'I was hungry and you gave me food to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.' Hungry not only for bread - but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing - but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks - but homeless because of rejection." Mother Teresa

As I heard, again, of another shooting in Malden, I eagerly scanned the news for any information I could find, wanting to ensure that it did not happen near the schools my children were in.  Whew!  They were safe; hence, my tiny world was perfect again.  As the day progressed and I finally had a few moments, I meandered over to the comments section of the Malden Patch.  I clucked and tisked like an old hen as I silently nodded my head in agreement at some of the people that were voicing their opinions in regards to that crime and previous crimes that have been committed against my beloved City of  Malden.   Some of the finger pointing made sense and the “City” is most assuredly to blame for all of this crime.  Right?

As the hours ticked by, I soon learned that Shawn Clark, a husband, a father, a son, a friend, had passed away from his wounds.  Slowly I watched as the proverbial finger slowly turned from others and towards me.  What did I do?  I was not involved. I did not do anything!  As if a brick dropped on my head, I understood in that one moment.  My face heated in embarrassment and shame as my internal voice agreed.  That is correct, Kelly.  You did nothing.

In that very moment I realized I needed to apologize to you all for many things.  So, to everyone in the City of Malden, I am sorry.   

I apologize for my indifference, as each crime took place.  Because it was not against “my family”, I did nothing.

I apologize for not taking the time to attend the meetings of the City officials in trying to get residents to come together and take some sort of action, because Lord only knows, I didn’t even try to come up with a plan of my own.   Again, I did nothing.

I apologize for my complacency, as a Malden resident and voter. I have a say in how this beloved city is run, yet I did nothing.

I apologize for walking down the street and not picking up the trash as I go, allowing my City streets to remain cluttered and filthy.  Instead of taking pride in where I live, I have chosen instead to blame others, walk by and do nothing.

I apologize for not setting a positive example to our youth, through my own actions, words and attitudes - choosing instead to do nothing.

I apologize to all of the small businesses in Malden, for not patronizing your establishments more and getting to know you better.  For you, I did nothing.

I apologize to everyone that I have passed walking down the streets in Malden, avoiding eye contact with you.   Making excuses and justifying my behavior because you are strangers to me, you look different or you did not look back; again, I did nothing.

I can’t fix the past but going forward, I promise to take responsibility and accountability for my actions.  Instead of judging or placing blame, I will look for the perfection in each of you and ask that you do the same with me. Then I will ask, “what can I do to help”, instead of asking or expecting others to do all of the work.

We all look to the outside world, and eagerly place blame on the senseless violence that is surrounding us.  Maybe, and this is just a thought, we need to first look within ourselves and our own families and ask, “are we doing enough to improve who we are and who our children are”……and if we work harder on ourselves, maybe that would be the first step in improving what is going on around us.

Miracle on Irving Street?

(This was first posted on MaldenPatch.com)

“When the world says ‘Give Up’, Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’”

Maybe you drive by it everyday, forgetting that it is there.  The brick structure, strong and resilient, continues to stand through the harsh New England climate.  It has stood for over one hundred years, like many of the buildings in Malden.  Yet that building is holding something pretty special inside right now.  It is holding hope.  Behind those walls, there is a small group of boys, supported by a strong coaching staff, that are doing what some thought would be next to impossible.  They are winning basketball games.

Some of the games have been heartstoppingly close, with some wins happening by coming from a deficit to win by one point.  Each game bringing them closer and closer to a miracle of sorts - an undefeated season.

Emergence of real and tangible hope began as this 7th and 8th grade team played in the 39th Annual Malden Catholic Brother Anthony Tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend.  This tournament brought in teams from Malden, Medford, Woburn,  Melrose, Arlington, Lynnfield, Waltham, Everett, and Lynn,   It was an intense weekend, stunning everyone, by not only the physicality of the tournament by all teams,  but by the sheer determination of the Cheverus team in particular.  They never gave up.

This little team, that refuses to allow being behind or listening to others telling them they can’t, for the first time in the history of the basketball program at the Cheverus School, won that Brother Anthony Tournament that weekend.   As other teams fell away one by one, you could see the difference in not only the players but the spectators.   Maybe this team is different because they have known what it is like to lose.  Maybe they stay strong because they know that they have each other, not only from the floor, but the players and coaches on the bench. 

Some say this team wins because of their big guy, 13 year old Nathaniel Ilebode, strong and athletic, who rises above everyone to stand at 6’3”.  This gentle giant, who was awarded the prestigious Brother Anthony award for sportsmanship that weekend, is constantly battered under the boards, fighting, as two and sometimes three opponents are told to surround him in an attempt to stop his game.  Yet, as adults we all know, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link and one player does not make a team.  This team continues to rise, because of all the players, supporting each other not only on the basketball court but off.  Coach Charlie, Coach Mike, Coach Glenn and Coach Pierre, run the team as a family, reminding all players that the true character of a man is not determined by only winning but by supporting each other academically, socially and athletically.

So is this a miracle?   Many say yes.  I think differently.  This team, inarguably, has a strong starting five, but they also have a strong supporting bench.  This team works hard both off and on the court.  They listen to their coaches and not the outside world.  It is because of this, I believe, is why this team has won all their games to date, defeating even the defending State Champions St. Agnes Trojans of Fidelity House in Arlington, yet there are more games to play.

How far will they take this none of us know, but already they have won in the hearts and minds of many, including their opponents.  As Richard Bach once stated “Sooner or later those who win are those who think they can.”  As we all know, winners in life are not just determined by the score of a game.

So, as you drive by the Cheverus School on the corner of Main and Route 60, think about that small team, studying inside, hoping their miracle will happen for them this basketball season.  May that young team realize, that win or lose, their miracle has already happened, because they continually exhibiit strength of character and perserverance both off and on the basketball court.

Kelly Ilebode is a Malden resident and published author.  You can visit her personal site at http://kellyilebode.com/.



It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt