HUD Regional Director, Mayor Ryan Highlight Springfield Youthbuild Program

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More than 235 people, who previously lacked basic education skills, have successfully gone through the YouthBuild program administered by the YWCA of Western Massachusetts since the program's inception in 1998. During this time, eight new houses for low-income families have been constructed in Springfield.

[Photo 1: HUD Regional Director Taylor Caswell speaking with Roman H.]
HUD Regional Director Taylor Caswell speaks with Roman H. and other YouthBuild students at the Springfield, Mass. training site.

The program recently got a boost when HUD Regional Director Taylor Caswell and Springfield Mayor Charles Ryan visited the training site to deliver $700,000 in funding. With this funding, YWCA will partner with the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity to provide education and life skills training to area teenagers while constructing two new houses.

The YouthBuild program is a unique program that provides job training and education while assisting with the production of affordable housing. Participants, who are aged 16-24 and out of school, build or renovate housing for low-income families while earning GEDs and developing their own personal potential.

During the event, YouthBuild student Roman H. spoke of what the YouthBuild program means to him:

[Photo 2: Students with check]
YouthBuild students proudly show off the $700,000 check to continue the successful YouthBuild program administered by the YWCA of Western Massachusetts.

"I was never the one for going to school everyday and enjoying it. But YouthBuild is different. They draw out my true potential, teaching me how I have to sacrifice old habits and lifestyles if I am going to get anywhere in this world. Each month passes and I grow stronger and stronger. I have had to sacrifice family, friends and negative recreation to actually get somewhere. YouthBuild has given me the strength to do this while teaching me to be a better student and employee. While at YouthBuild, I ended up getting a temporary job at the US Post Office, which was a wonderful experience. Despite the hard work and long hours, the YouthBuild staff kept encouraging me and helped me keep my head above the rough waters. I am still here. I have also had the opportunity to be involved in various community renovation projects. Due to these community projects, I have had the opportunity to make lots of future employment contacts.

I remember when I arrived at YouthBuild feeling like nothing matters. Like there was no hope for my future and my painful depressed life wasn't going anywhere. I came to YouthBuild with the goal of starting a new life. I remember the first day of the Mental Toughness Orientation, over 160 people applied to YouthBuild all hoping to get accepted to the program. Only 32 were accepted and I was one of them. I grew a great sense of hope and faith that things can actually get better for me. Coming into this positive atmosphere helped me to develop a better perspective on my life, meet new people, and develop relationships with staff. The relationship between staff and students is unlike any ordinary teacher and student bond.

YouthBuild has helped me realize within myself that I don't have to cry no more! I will just take a tissue, wipe my tears, receive a big hug and smile for I know that my future is full of success waiting for me to claim it.

Thank you YouthBuild!"

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