A little compassion goes a long way, and when Raymond Bell, the founder and administrator of the HOPE Project, saw that two young teens were handcuffed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for selling water without a permit, he saw two hardworking young people that he wanted to help.
“I’m an entrepreneur myself, and I love seeing young people having an interest in working for themselves,” Bell told WJLA.
And so now Bell is training Nolan White and Devin Gatewood for their new summer jobs through the HOPE Project, which is an information technology training program that provides technical training and development to young adults.
“HOPE” stands for Helping Other People Excel, and Bell certainly hopes to help the two teens do just that.
“We hope to be bringing them on board as iPhone-screen-replacement technicians here at HOPE Project,” Bell said of the two 17-year-olds.
They will also be provided with training for IT certifications.
The story of the two boys captured national attention after images of them and two other individuals in handcuffs, all for selling water on the Mall without a permit, were circulated around social media.
The incident so upset the public that City Council Member Charles Allen wrote a letter to U.S. Park Police Chief Robert MacLean demanding answers.
“While I understand the need to maintain consistency in permitted action, I do not understand why the enforcement cannot take place with uniformed personnel and actions less severe than handcuffing individuals suspected of sales,” Allen wrote in his letter. “I can’t help but think how the reaction by these same officers might have varied if different children had set up a quaint hand-painted lemonade stand on the same spot. While still the same violation of selling a beverage without proper permits and licences, I doubt we would have seen little girls in pigtails handcuffed on the ground.”
In the end, the teens were released to the custody of their legal guardians. And at least the horrific actions had some positive outcome.
“I just want to thank the guy who took the picture, but without him, none of these opportunities would have been possible,” Nolan told the news station.
As for Bell, he hopes to reach out to the other two individuals who were also caught up in the incident.
Read more at WJLA.