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.
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He concluded by asking all of us in the crowd not to view this an ending, simply the beginning of a new chapter; and he promised that he would continue advocating for YouthBuild wherever possible.
We'll miss him here in Massachusetts but will take solace in knowing that he's moved on to a position in which he can make an even bigger impact on our lives, just in a slightly different way. Thank you, Senator John Kerry, Father of YouthBuild, we will never forget all you have done for our cause.