By Cesar Ramirez, Construction Trainer
When I came to YouthBuild Providence as a student, it was because I felt it was my last chance to get my GED. I was tired of working warehouse jobs and wanted something better for myself. Joining YouthBuild, I realized that it was more than just a school, we’re a family.
As a student, I learned that there are people out there, besides your biological family or the people on the streets, who really do care about your education and wellbeing. I also learned that you cannot do everything on your own—sometimes you will need help along the way. As a student, I was dealing with some personal issues, such as my father passing away and my girlfriend getting pregnant that made me want to quit the program. But the staff here wouldn’t let me do that. Instead, they offered me support and encouragement. They let me know that everything would be alright. They gave me the time that I needed and supported me without me having to ask. They showed me that there is more to life than a GED and they understood that but, still they let me know that education is power.
I wanted to work at YouthBuild because I wanted to give back to the community and help other young people like the staff in YouthBuild helped me. I really wanted to help that one kid who feels that he/she can’t do it and just want to give up. When I became a staff member I knew my role would be filled with a lot of obstacles because of my age. I was 24 years old at the time and joined as an AmeriCorps member before being hired permanently as a full-time staff member. Some of the older students were around my age or the exact same age as me. I had to differentiate my role as staff member versus a student and learn that I can no longer treat the students as my friends but I must treat them as my students now.
My perspective as a staff member is different because I see how much work really goes into a day at YouthBuild, and how committed the staff are to all of their students. YouthBuild staff members are committed to the YouthBuild family. The construction program, in particular, teaches our young adults about teamwork, time management, and how everything we do helps someone else. Our program shows them that what we do in our community really matters.