Hope in Hertford: The impact of River City YouthBuild
By: Tim LongestI found hope for these youth in Hertford, a small town in the northeast corner of our state in Perquimans County. I went there to visit River City YouthBuild, a local chapter of a national organization that empowers economically disadvantaged young adults with education and job skills. They were in Hertford for a day of service in partnership with a local church to repair homes for people in need.
Dorothy Stoneman is the founder and CEO of YouthBuild USA, Inc. Last year, when she was visiting North Carolina, she said, “All of our youth come to YouthBuild lookings for an opportunity — a GED, work. They all find a family.” She believes in the power of love coupled with opportunity and so she built YouthBuild to be a game changer with youth spending time in the classroom and time building affordable housing to acquire a skill.
By 2014, in the USA, 260 YouthBuild programs were operating in 46 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands, engaging almost 10,000 young adults. Internationally, YouthBuild operates in Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, The Bahamas, Panama, Brazil, Peru, Iraq, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, and South Africa, operating over 100 local programs engaging another 6,000 young people.
River City YouthBuild is based in nearby Elizabeth City, where it has been led by Executive Director Lenora Jarvis-Mackey since it started in 1999. The primary components of YouthBuild’s programming are a GED program and job development and training. But Program Manager Angie Wills put it best when she said,“This is a youth transformation program.” Jeffrey Smith is one example of that transformation.When EdNC’s CEO Mebane Rash met Jeffrey last year, he said, “I was headed toward a life of nothingness. I acted out of character to please others in a world ruled by drugs. Now I am learning to take charge and lead the community that we love.”
“I ran into some unexpected obstacles,” Jeffrey said to me. “At 23, I finally decided I had no prior involvement in my community. I was kind of wandering without a cause. I came to YouthBuild because I heard that you could receive a trade and I wanted to do that. I wanted to go into construction.”
He spoke about the importance of support from other participants. “It’s a community within a community. You can go to those people. The fellow classmates they relate to you. You can encourage them and they can in turn encourage you and keep you on the right track.”
Now Jeffrey is giving back to the organization that helped him grow, as an Americorps VISTA employee with YouthBuild.
Continue reading here: https://www.ednc.org/2015/08/13/hope-in-hertford-the-impact-of-river-city-youthbuild/