Hi, my name is Marcus Diaz. I am a student at the Worcester YouthBuild Program. I joined YouthBuild last year because I was unable to pass my MCAS test while attending the Worcester Public Schools. YouthBuild gave me an opportunity to continue my education and to learn construction. When I was in the Public Schools I had some great teachers who really cared about me, BUT I had many others who did not. Many teachers gave up on me because I couldn’t read and write up to their standards. They knew that I would never be able to pass the MCAS test. In many ways, they just stopped teaching me.
YouthBuild, is much different. My first day at YouthBuild, I was welcomed with open arms. They had me take a TABE test, and told me just to try my best and not to worry. My test scores were very low. I tested in at 3rd grade in both Math and Reading. I was worried that YouthBuild would quit on me, just like everyone else had. But they didn’t quit on me, they continued to challenge me.
My instructor at YouthBuild, Francis, had me attend Math class twice a day, had me reading books, and writing essays. I put in the work, and when YouthBuild re-tested me I tested at an 8th grade level in both math and reading!
YouthBuild believed in me, and now I believe in myself. It’s true that I have an IEP and difficulty learning. But I am not defined by that, I am defined by how hard I work, and how I treat others!
I am taking my HiSET exam in April- I might not pass. But that’s OK, because I know that YouthBuild has my back, that YOU ALL have my back and that one day I will pass my HiSET. I will go into the Union and I will accomplish all of my goals. We need more money for YouthBuild, so they can continue to help people like you and me!
YouthBuild Lawrence has developed a very interesting learning activity for their students. After meeting with their legislators during YouthBuild Day at the State House, the students began a scavenger hunt to find monuments in Boston. The hunt started across the street from the State House at the Memorial for the 54th Regiment during the Civil War. From there, they headed down Park Street in search of such historic Boston sites as the grave of Paul Revere, the old City Hall and the old State House to name just a few. It was exciting to see history brought to life in this meaningful manner. Congratulations to the staff at YouthBuild Lawrence for developing this activity. More reports will be coming in the future.
The 20th Annual YouthBuild Day at the State House Engages Students and Legislators to Get a Better Understanding of the Importance of YouthBuild
YouthBuild Day at the State House is always an exciting day for the students and staff at our 11 Massachusetts YouthBuild programs. This year was no exception, as the event took place in the House of Representatives Chamber for only the third time in the 20 consecutive years of this event. This day represents an opportunity for students to relate their stories to legislators and also to network with the other YouthBuild students from across the Commonwealth.
At this year's event, we were excited to hear the words, Ronald Walker, the new Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. Sec. Walker was very clear about the importance of the YouthBuild programs in developing work skills for the new workforce. We are very appreciative of the Secretary's words of encouragement and hope to develop a strong working relationship with him.
As always, our legislators were able to speak to the students. This year, Representative Gloria Fox, a familiar figure at State House Day welcome the students to the Chamber of the House of Representatives. Representative Fox's words were as always very inspirational for YouthBuild students. She encouraged them to be active participants in government.
Senator Sal DiDomenico, who represents several areas where YouthBuild students reside, also offered his words of encouragement. He praised the students' efforts in making this important change in their lives with a message of hope for their futures. Sen. DiDomenico has visited Just-A-Start YouthBuild serving Cambridge and Chelsea for other program events
Two invited guest speakers also had important messages for the students. Brian McPherson is the Director of Diversity at Suffolk Construction, one of the largest construction companies in the world. They have been working closely with YouthBuild Boston on projects in the city. Suffolk offers employment opportunities for young people once they complete the program.
Samuel Ackah is the Compliance Coordinator for the New Bedford Housing Authority. He described the ongoing relationship between the Housing Authority and YouthBuild New Bedford. They have been engaged in several ongoing projects and Sam also talked about employment possibilities at Housing Authorities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has identified YouthBuild participants as priority potential employees through their Section 3 requirement.
In addition to the program and the opportunity to meet with legislators, YouthBuild Day at the State House offers most of the students their first opportunity to view this beautiful building. Here, YouthBuild Fall River graduate and current staff member, Christian Berrios offers information on the history to current students in that program.
Senate Majority Leader, Harriette Chandler, Gives Worcester Youthbuild Students a Tour of the Senate Chamber
On March 19, 2015, Worcester YouthBuild students joined their counterparts from YouthBuild programs across the Commonwealth at the 20th Annual YouthBuild State House Day. After a rally and speeches in the House Chamber, students visited with their local legislators to let them know how YouthBuild programming helps young people reclaim their lives while rehabilitating and constructing low-income housing in their communities.
Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) proudly invited the Worcester YouthBuild students and staff to join her in a tour of the Senate Chamber and graciously answered questions. Thank you Senator Chandler! Your ongoing support of Worcester YouthBuild is greatly appreciated!
YouthBuild Fall River students pledge to end violence against women at Fall River event
The pledge was simple and to the point with only one sentence.“From this day forward I promise to be part of the solution in ending violence against women.”
It was recited by about a dozen male students as they raised their right hands Wednesday morning in YouthBuild, an alternative education program run by the Old Colony YMCA and housed at the Greater Fall River Re-Creation building on 72 Bank St.
They were joined by their teachers and U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Massachusetts, and Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn. The pledge-takers’ witnesses were their female peers in the room. All of them had pinned white ribbons to their shirts and jackets, signifying they would join the fight to end violence against women.
The White Ribbon Campaign is spearheaded by Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Keating is a long-time supporter of the cause and twice brought those white ribbons to Congress, where he has also distributed them to his colleagues.
“This is when the guys get to step up,” Keating told them. “We’re coming together for an important message.”
“We can do something about it,” he said, right before distributing the ribbons.
Ashley Bendiksen, a public relations specialist in Quinn’s office, spoke to students of her own experience as a survivor of domestic violence. She was in an abusive relationship while in college.At 28 years old, Bendiksen is less than a decade older than many of the students with whom she shared her story of surviving domestic violence. She explained that abuse could happen to anyone.The relationship Bendiksen spoke of started on a high note. “We spent several months head over heels, everything was going great,” Bendiksen said.
Then, one day, Bendiksen’s boyfriend “lost it,” she said. She was driving, and he was yelling. Two hours later he calmed down. The relationship progressively got worse, and he became more controlling, Bendiksen said, but at the same time she was afraid to be in the relationship, she also feared what would happen if she left it.
She also didn’t recognize at the time she was in an abusive relationship. “I only thought I wasn’t in a violent relationship because he didn’t punch me in the face,” Bendiksen said. But it eventually progressed to physical violence.
She had to drop out of college at the time. Bendiksen said she likes to share her story because, “I think it resonates with a lot of people.”She also noted that recovery is also possible. She later re-enrolled in school and graduated at the top of her class.
TRA Worcester YouthBuild has continue its fine work of bringing legislators to the program for a chance to meet and share ideas with their students. Representative James O'Day has been a long-time supporter of the program and has attended several graduation ceremonies.
Representative Mary Keefe is a relatively new legislator representing Worcester, but has been very active in the community for many years. Legislators visiting programs is a very important part of the Leadership Development that is an integral component in YouthBuild programs. YouthBuild students will be visiting more than 100 legislators during the 20th Annual YouthBuild Day at the State House on March 19th.
All that snow on the ground hasn't kept YouthBuild North Shore members from building and sharpening their skills! They have been working in the basement of their facility to build out a work and storage room dedicated to YouthBuild. In this picture, members can be seen building the shelving that will soon hold the equipment and supplies that they will be using on their projects.
Senator Harriette Chandler, who is the Majority Leader of the Massachusetts State Senate, took time from her busy schedule to visit the students at the TRA Worcester YouthBuild Program. Senator Chandler, who also serves on the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing, was especially interested in the construction aspect of the program that trains the students to develop affordable housing in their communities.