Jamie Flick and Secoy Roberts, along with Roberts' mother Tasia, are a shining light of hope in a day and age where acceptance and the ability to embrace seem so difficult to find.
Flick, a South Williamsport father of four boys, recently became a legal guardian to 17-year-old new South Williamsport Mountaineer Secoy Roberts of Brooklyn, New York. It's an unusual, yet incredible story of meeting, to now becoming a family, and preparing Secoy for his collegiate future.
Their story began eight years ago when Flick signed up for ‘The Fresh Air Fund,’ a program designed to help children from underserved New York communities get out and experience a different lifestyle during the summer months. From that first summer, destiny was in the air and the beginning of a lifelong bond, relationship, and future was sparked.
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“They said, 'hey, we’ve got kids from Brooklyn.' That was eight years ago, said Flick. "[The kids] can come down for the summer, get out of the city, and see what farm life is like." After that summer, said Flick, "we didn’t even wait for him to come back, we went up to Brooklyn and watched basketball games, and formed a relationship. So when his mom called the next year, we were friends and family.”
The families opted to maintain a personal relationship outside of The Fresh Air Fund, establishing trips on their own for Secoy and his younger brother, Sequan, to make the summer trips a yearly occurrence.
“The relationship began through the Fresh Air Fund, that I was very skeptical of at first," said Tasia Roberts. "But over time people kept recommending it for kids from the urban community. I’m a close-knit mom and very protective and I said, let me give it a shot, and from there it just became the best. We’re so close,” Roberts said about the beginning of this journey.
“They came up to visit Brooklyn, so over time the relationship grew and we decided our own method of connection,” she continued.
Secoy, the oldest of six siblings, beamed with pride talking about his summer trips and experiencing so many things the big city doesn’t allow.
“We hiked and fished a lot, and did a lot of four wheeling. It was my first time doing a lot of things. Now that I’m older, it’s so much slower than Brooklyn. It’s different and a nice pace for a change. This year working on the farm, I got to work, make money. I like seeing the animals, and moving cattle, feeding animals, and building,” Roberts reflected about his time in central Pennsylvania.
Throughout their relationship Secoy and Flick began to discuss future plans and worked on building life skills. Over the course of their experiences, college, and professional interests were tossed around, lighting an interest in Secoy in Penn College and the construction management program. This is where the difficult, yet exhilarating choice was made to make South Williamsport his home for the next year or more.
“I think that the big part of me talking to Secoy’s mom was the Penn College Construction Management program. For Secoy to be here for a whole year and get acclimated. More so than just the summer months,” Flick said while joking about never coming back after experiencing a central Pennsylvania winter.
About to embrace a new school, new surroundings, and new lifestyle for his daily life, coming from the busiest city in the country, Secoy's face and voice communicate his excitement. But he's not entirely without some lingering thoughts of leaving his family.
“I think it was the comfortability. Everybody just makes me feel safe in their home, I don’t have to worry about stuff. It makes me feel like I’m at home,” Secoy said about what contributed to his decision. “She [Tasia] was a single mother for 10 years, and as the oldest, she depended on me for a lot. Now she has to rely on Sequan, and he’ll have to step up and be the oldest brother in the house. It may be hard on her letting her oldest go for a year, even longer for college,” he added.
For different parents from different backgrounds, who, less than a decade ago had never known each other existed, they both recognize the value in this plan, despite the sadness and occasional worry.
Tasia, at 35, recently completed her Master’s Degree from Brooklyn College and teaches high school history in Brooklyn. She understands the importance of higher education and being prepared for the road ahead.
“It’s overwhelming and touching. I love him and miss him dearly. I never want to limit him from having different opportunities, and lifestyles, or living and experiencing things. The only reason I was able to let him and go and have this experience is because I know he’s in good hands and not too far away from home,” she said.
Flick and Roberts come from a tow completely different cultures and had a massive discrepancy in interests initially, and still do. What makes this duo so special is their ability to embrace each other’s personalities, interests, and hobbies. They are interested to learn more about each other's ideas, likes, and thoughts.
In a time of tension in the current social climate, these families demonstrate the definition of embracing; they aren’t afraid to confront some of the uncomfortable conversations, whether those be culture, race, background, or upbringings. Each strives to learn and experience the others lifestyles which have trickled down the family trees.
“His personality did it, he makes me laugh. They (Secoy and Sequan) have been my brothers since the first time they came. It was the way I was raised, to accept everything. I’ve just been taught the right thing,” Chase, Jamie Flick’s youngest son, said of the family additions.
“Jamie overall is spectacular. There is no word to describe him. From day one race has never stepped in the door, doors are open and we were welcomed from the jump. Originally my family is from Trinidad, and he’s always inquisitive and asking about our culture, and one day I will take him up on visiting Trinidad like he said. I’m going to hold him to that,” Tasia gleefully joked.
Secoy's journey began in an awkward school setting, due to the global pandemic. But like his mother, Secoy knows the rewards will come. Persevering through single motherhood for 10 years, living in a shelter, to achieving her Master’s degree, Tasia now gets to jump the final hurdle together with her son, while being apart.
“Here I have a better chance to set up my future. Mr. Flick is putting me on a path to set myself up better moving forward” Secoy said as he smiled sitting beside a man helping him take the next big step in his life. While surely his mother Tasia is pleased, under the city lights, to see her hard work also come to fruition.