Almost a year has passed since Miguel 'Mickey' Hernandez, a young man known for his quiet disposition and love of soccer, was killed in a gang attack as he walked home from Osbourn High School.
The 15-year-old was not a gang member, but an innocent victim. He was buried in Mexico, but his memory lives on in the Georgetown South community, where he lived and participated in the Youth Apostles Institute’s Don Bosco Center after school program, held at the neighborhood's community center.
On November 16, the center will inaugurate a new artificial turf field in Miguel’s memory. A grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth allowed the community and staff members to work together to design an open outdoor area for children.
Many students and residents fill the community center daily. An after school program is held there three days a week in an effort to keep children safe and give them something to do.
“In 2005, we had maybe 10 or 12 children during the afternoon,” said Father Ramon Dominguez who helps run the community center programming. “Now we have 45 kids here playing three afternoons a week, and the field gets a lot of use.”
Father Dominguez went on to say that Miguel’s cousins and younger brother continue to attend activities at the community center and the program. The family is thrilled with the new field and happy to have a local place to remember Miguel.
“This grant allows this field to be playable in all weathers and to give area children and teens a safe, fun place to be physically active year-round," Dominguez said.
“Miguel was a tremendous young man; his life should not go unnoticed. I hope that as others play and enjoy this space, they will see the good things in this community and be inspired to live a life that is remembered by truth and hope. A life mired in violence will never bring lasting joy or fulfillment,” he added.