On Thursday, September 14, 2017, twenty-five (25) students graduated from the Worcester YouthBuild Program, operated by Training Resources of America, Inc. (TRA). The ceremony took place at Mechanics Hall, 2nd Floor (Washburn Hall) 321 Main Street, Worcester, MA. Representative James J. O’Day (D-West Boylston, an ardent supporter of YouthBuild was the keynote speaker.
The graduates, ages 17 to 25, include: Nedjma Bensahih (22), Joshua Bourassa, (22), Santos Casia (22), Kashon Clemetson (24), Jonathan Cortes (22), Rutherford Dorelus (20), Christian D. Fernandez (18), Imalay Holguin-Guzman (25), Jeremy Javier (23), Kabilraj Kantharaj (23), Harmony Lamarche (18), Gladys Leonardo- Charuco (23), Yarnell May (20), Kaneisha M. Minton (20), Saniyya Moreno (18), Absalon Sambolin (24), Ciara Santiago (22), Hennesis Santiago (20), Joshua Ventura (19), Christian Javier Vergara-Rosado (20), and Gerome Wright (19), all of Worcester; Gabrielle Carter (24) of Gardner; Keith Lowell (25) of Charlton; and Destanie Smith (17) and Domanic Vierkant (18), both from Rutland.
Worcester YouthBuild provides comprehensive training to young people ages 16 to 24 that meet low-income guidelines, are not in school, have not received a high school diploma or High School Equivalency or are basic skills deficient, and demonstrate a willingness to work hard for personal and community change.
Students receive instruction in High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) preparation, self-esteem, life, work readiness, and leadership skills, including community service opportunities. Additionally, participants choose between two skills training tracks: Construction - where they learn carpentry/ building skills utilizing an actual housing rehab or new construction project which helps create quality low-income housing in Worcester and Nursing Assistant – where they learn nurse aide and home health aide skills via a partnership with the American Red Cross. Extensive support services include counseling/ case management, job development/ placement assistance, as well as transition to higher education and follow-up services.
In addition to attaining their High School Equivalency certificates, Construction track students earn OSHA, and Home Builder’s Institute Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training (HBI-PACT) certificates and Nursing Assistant track students earn their state nurse aide and CPR certifications.
Most of all, the program offers opportunities for personal growth and development. According to graduate Joshua Ventura “I achieved my High School Equivalency credential and my PACT certification thanks to YouthBuild. The program has helped steer me in the right direction both academically and socially, and I couldn’t be more grateful.” Adds, graduate Destanie Smith, “In just a few months, I have completed my High School Equivalency tests, graduated from the American Red Cross, and found an amazing job in the nursing field. I went from being this girl who kept to herself to being an outgoing person…I have also gained many new friends and an amazing support group that I will forever be grateful for.”
This year, Worcester YouthBuild partnered with the American Red Cross for the nurse assistant training and Main South Community Development Corporation (MSCDC) where students learned carpentry skills through a variety of rehab projects. Additionally, Worcester YouthBuild continued its long-standing partnership with building materials manufacturer Saint-Gobain through the Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation and with support from the Saint-Gobain family of companies who provided financial assistance and volunteers to teach Science and Math in the YouthBuild classroom.
Program Manager Doug Daigle, TRA President Kim Harmon, and Representative James O’Day joined family and friends in celebrating the young peoples’ many accomplishments.