On any given Sunday, Cheara fixes breakfast for his family while his wife rallies their kids together for church.
If it’s the right season, later in the day, he and his oldest children will walk to the nearby park for some touch football before catching a game on TV.
Sports have always been a big part of his life. When he was a teenager, his focus was on playing ball while some peers were off getting involved with the wrong crowds. But sports kept Cheara and his friends too busy for trouble, and that’s what eventually drew them to the Out of School Time (OST) program. For many students and families in the Feltonville neighborhood during the early 00’s, OST was—and still is—a saving grace.
“Once the program came … all the kids around the neighborhood used to always go,” he said.
Cheara participated through his middle school years, and although the gym class-style activities kept him engaged, in retrospect, the program did much more. It brought him out of his shell and helped him maintain good marks.
Staff recognized his character early on. “[Cheara] had a lot of integrity. He was the type of participant always willing to help others … a natural born leader,” said Christian Holland, director of OST programs.
Cheara calls Feltonville home to this day. It’s a tight-knit community that he takes a lot of pride in. The neighborhood is not without its problems, but as a USPS mail carrier, he sees just how far the community has come on his daily mail route.
Cheara reaps the benefits of OST in a different way today: as a parent. His hope is that his children grow up in the same nurturing environment he did. With the loving home he and his wife provide, we have no doubt that they will.
See for yourself.