Before heading down to Washington to start his new position as secretary of state, former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry reserved some time to travel around the state and bid farewell to some of the local organizations he had been highly involved with during his time in the senate. His first stop? YWCA YouthBuild Springfield.
Since 1992, when John Kerry visited his first YouthBuild program in Harlem, NY, he has been an invaluable ally on Capitol Hill and a champion of the cause. If not for Kerry, YouthBuild would never have grown to the 275 programs that exist today. In fact, YouthBuild Founder Dorothy Stoneman even referred to him as "The Father of YouthBuild" when she introduced him to the YB students, staff and supporters that showed up to hear him speak.
When Kerry took the podium he recounted memories of programs he visited and students he'd met, and as he spoke, it was clear to all of us in attendance how proud he was to have played such an integral part in the success of YouthBuild. "Over the years since 1992, we have put 1.1. billion dollars in the program," Kerry noted. "That means that at the price of about $10,000 per student, we have been able to give people full opportunities, full lives, and full citizenship." Some of those students that he referred to were in attendance, and he invited them to stand beside him for the remainder of his speech.
YouthBuild New Bedford is currently in the midst of a move from 181 Hillman St. to its new home on the second floor of 593 Kempton St. The building, once used as an orphanage, was donated to YouthBuild New Bedford by the city, and will help the program accommodate more students as well as offer more resources to staff and program participants. Those resources, none of which were available at 181 Hillman St., will include a large conference room for staff, a student meeting room, and a computer lab. The new building will also include a bigger workshop for student projects and offices for all its staff. Overall it's about a 300% increase in space for YB New Bedford.
The Kempton St. building will also serve as the new headquarters for the MYBC, and Director Terry Moran is excited for the move. The new Coalition office will be more centrally located than the previous one, and will allow the MYBC Director to serve the ten MA programs more readily and efficiently. While the Coalition and YB New Bedford staff will be moving in over the next week, this year students are not scheduled to start until January 28th.
The MYBC received 15,000 dollar grant from Bank of America for the purpose of funding future Learning Academies and putting on the Coalition's most popular and successful event, The Carpentry Challenge. Learning Academies, of which there have been two so far, were established last year to train staff on a variety of topics so that they may better serve their students. The most recent Learning Academy took place in Fall River on December 7th and was geared specifically toward educating MYBC staff on the changes in the GED test that will take place in 2014. For more about this event, see the post below.
The Carpentry Challenge, which has been an annual MYBC event since the Coalition was founded in 1996, takes teams of ten students from YouthBuild programs all over New England and challenges them to build a three-walled room complete with door and window openings using the help of only a blueprint and a coach. Teams will be judged by members of the Carpenters Union on their safety, technique, and overall finished product to determine the winner. The last Carpentry Challenge, which took place in the parking lot of Home Depot in Fall River, drew a number of YouthBuild supporters that included state officials, members of the press, and community representatives from surrounding areas. The competition is something students and staff look forward to all year, and organizing it would not have been possible without the generous support of Bank of America.
While the location of this year's Carpentry Challenge is still TBA, the MYBC has determined it will take place on May 14, 2013. Students and staff are already preparing for what will be an exciting competition between more than fourteen programs across New England. We hope to see you there!
Photos from the 15th Annual MYBC Carpentry Challenge