Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Building Buildings, Building Youth. YouthBuild in Highland Park

Twenty-seven Centre Street, an old firehouse, is being gutted and rehabbed by YouthBuild into office and training space additional to their main space at 504 Dudley Street. Not only is a long-abandoned building being renewed but skills are being acquired, jobs earned, and lives changed through the YouthBuild program.

Mando, 19, originally from Puerto Rico,  said that YouthBuild "gives me something to do besides being in the streets."  What would he be doing if he wasn't working with YouthBuild? "Honestly, I really don't even know. Trying to survive, trying to eat.  YouthBuild gives me something to learn, something I can build for my later future."

A young man from Hyde Park who identified himself as YB ("that's my nickname," he said), 23,  said of YouthBuild, "It's a good program. It's a tough program. It's good for helping you gain experience.  They give you stipends to help you get through.  They try to steer you on the right path and keep you there.  If you come here and you work hard they see that and they help you get a job."

Which is what happened to Angel De Jesus, 27, of Grove Hall.  He graduated from the program in '09 and was placed with Wellington Construction after 6 months of working with Youth Build.  While with Wellington Construction, he worked on a house restoration on Woodbine Street with This Old House.

He said that YouthBuild is "great for people that want to turn their life around.  It's geared toward youth that's been through certain experiences and want to turn their life around."

"I love it," De Jesus said. "YouthBuild really care about young people and genuinely really want to help youth in Boston.  It's like a family. You're always part of YouthBuild.  Always."

Asked what he'd be doing if he wasn't working with Youthbuild, De Jesus said, "maybe I'll still be in the streets. YouthBuild put my life in a positive direction".

Tukrong, 20, from South Boston, said that if he wasn't working with YouthBuild for the summer he'd be doing "nothing" but "maybe playing video games and training" at Tai Kwon Do.  He plans on going to college to be a personal trainer and physical therapist and he said Youth Build is helping him with the college application process.

The 27 Centre Street building rehab should be finished in one and a half to two years.  Hopefully these guys will stay on track for the rest of their lives.

YouthBuild workers in 27 Centre Street

27 Centre St. YouthBuild crew takes a morning break

YouthBuild crew Lorenzo Robinson, Joseph Dixon, Angel De Jesus, and Raymond take a break

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