During a break at his Delaware County, PA jobsite, Heriberto Bahamonde happily recalled his Glen Mills experience. However, he turned serious when he said where he would be without the school in his life. He was frank and quick.
“Dead or in jail,” Bahamonde said.
Instead, the devoted family man and his wife are raising four children and leading a happy and productive life, a stark contrast from the dangerous and reckless teenage existence he was living in North Philadelphia on 3rd and Indiana. Pre-Glen Mills, his life was littered with “…drugs, fighting, guns, pretty much not going to school. I told my mom I would try to do right, but it didn’t pan out,” he said.
Putting that into perspective, Bahamonde’s life got the critical direction it desperately needed and he had the chance to grow branches and create a healthy, happy family unit. One life became many, evidenced by the way he talked proudly about his children, his wife, and their four grandchildren.
A talented athlete and hardworking young man, Bahamonde found much of his hope on the baseball field and used the manicured diamond at the school as one of his platforms for changing the direction of his life.
He still relishes in the memories of his playing days as a Battling Bull. Playing in the Joseph F. Barrett Memorial All-Star Game, pounding a game winning homer, making a strong throw from deep in the hole, and having a tasty post game McDonald’s meal with his Battling Bull teammates are all memories woven into his soul.
But to him, baseball is not just a fun-filled trip down memory lane, a chance to revel in long gone glory days. It’s much more. He still plays in adult leagues around the city but to Bahamonde, it’s about giving back to a group of young people, including his baseball loving son. He spends his spring afternoons coaching young, impressionable student/athletes in his role as a baseball coach at Franklin Learning Center High School in Philadelphia.
“I thought I was born to lead,” Bahamonde explained. "Glen Mills pretty much molded me into that leader.”
The leadership trait that was fostered at the Glen Mills Schools shines, not just while coaching on the field, but in his work life as well. Bahamonde has been a master Union Local 690 plumber for a dozen years and currently serves as an officer in the Union. He is also a certified welder and a plumbing foreman for Burns Mechanical.
How does he balance a busy workload, family obligations, and all that goes into that?
“(Glen Mills) has taught me how to bring respect and hard work together, into balance,” Bahamonde said. “They teach you respect. That goes a long way.”
Bahamonde has great advice for current Glen Mills students.
“Follow the lead to learn. After that, flourish,” he said.
In other words, follow his example.