When I returned home from a wonderful gathering of almost three generations of Warehouse 21 Teen Art Center youth alum, supporting friends, parents and former board members, I wanted to hold on to that celebratory time, enjoying rich conversations and welcomed company of good people and delicious New Mexican cuisine.

There were so many fond memories of good times in that artistically ornamented building at the Railyard; Warehouse 21 was a place of refuge. While there were many success stories shared that Sunday from the youth who made supporters and volunteers very proud, it was hard not to be drawn around the television, stunned by the tragedy of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others on

Jan. 26.

Then, a young man who started coming to Warehouse 21 when it was just a shack but still a place with a lot of love, said, “There’s no reason for me to vote if the Electoral College is going to make the final decision anyway.” I informed him that we all had to vote. “It is our right. It’s a necessity to do so,” I declared. Especially now.

Later that night, I watched NCIS-LA reruns instead of breaking news.

As I recall, my youngest daughter’s bedroom walls were covered with Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson posters. She proudly wore the L.A. Lakers’ gold and royal blue jerseys starting in junior high school. No matter what was said about Kobe, the celebrated athlete was a superhero in her book.

Our gracious Warehouse 21 reunion hostess, Warehouse 21 founder Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt, decided that her nursing profession had to be put on hold because funny, talented, passionate, deep-thinking and intelligent young people needed a place to go; they needed some place just for them; spaces that allowed them to express themselves through visual and performing arts; a place where they knew they would be safe and loved.

This amazing lady, for 20-plus years, touched and saved many young lives (“New day for Warehouse 21, where kids went to create,” Our View, Nov. 19). The memorial wall of those gone far too soon and once displayed on the first floor of the building was the one thing that saddened her most.

No doubt Ana and her board members — angels like Patty Carter with Youth Shelters; Joni and Vic Brenneisen of Christ Church Santa Fe, whose work and contributions at Sweeney Elementary and Pete’s Place have been invaluable; former Gov. Bill Richardson and others, were relentless in their efforts to help kids heal. There were many other philanthropists, business owners, parents and volunteer educators, musicians and artists who did everything they could to support our young people, many of whom were homeless. Like most of us, they just wanted to find success, peace and a little joy.

So my reflections of that heartbreaking Sunday, Jan. 26, come from Kobe Bryant’s own words, reported by ABC-TV’s David Muir, my favorite journalist. Asked how he wanted to be remembered, Kobe “said he wanted to be remembered as a player who didn’t waste a moment or a day.”

Hear our young people’s voices. Listen to them and act upon some of their appeals; they really do have something to say.

We must make our time left on this Earth count for something, for the good of humankind and especially for our children. Not a moment should be missed and nothing taken for granted. In a blink of an eye, life can suddenly change. Peace be with you.

Brenda Lyle-Gray, aka Jetta Dya Jones, is a retired educator, motivational speaker and published author of Ba’al Perazim: The Breakthrough. She served as board president of WH21 for four years. She lives in Santa Fe.

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