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Worcester YouthBuild Success Story

ANDRES VENTURA had dropped out of high school in March 2010 while in the second half of his junior year to help his Mom and his two younger siblings.

Unchallenged by a traditional school program, he was failing classes and did not want to repeat his junior year.

He heard about the Worcester YouthBuild Program from his friend and fellow musician, Dave Grady, who had already enrolled in the program. With a program slot still available, Andres was able to join the YouthBuild class of 2010-11 later in the year.

YouthBuild turned out to be a life-changing experience for Andres. He worked hard and earned his GED, while gaining valuable leadership, life, and construction skills. Andres was part of the YouthBuild team that participated in the substantial gut rehab of a three-family home located at 23 Hollis Street in the distressed Main South neighborhood of Worcester, MA. In April 2011, he also participated in the Saint-Gobain/ CertainTeed / YouthBuild USA Partnership ceremonial kick-off event celebrating Saint-Gobain/ CertainTeed’s donation of $100,000 to Worcester YouthBuild. The kick-off was followed by an afternoon of service projects at the site where YouthBuild students had an opportunity to work side by side with SGC/ CertainTeed employees.

Andres jokingly says his favorite part of the program was earning stipends for his participation and getting a one hour lunch period. He gratefully acknowledges the staff that motivated him. “They made me do the work…I wouldn’t be doing anything if it wasn’t for YouthBuild,” admits Andres.

Following graduation, Andres volunteered at another YouthBuild project at 4 King Street, also located in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood. The Stone Soup Community Center is a 501c3 volunteer-run umbrella organization that brings together various Worcester leadership development and organizing groups under one roof. In March 2009, a fire destroyed much of the building. Worcester YouthBuild, in partnership with New England Carpenters Union - Local 107, Job Corps and other organizations has joined forces to help rebuild the center which will also contain a low-income housing unit.

Representatives from the New England Carpenters Union – Local 107 were so impressed with Andres’ work ethic and skills, they invited him to join the Union as an apprentice and he is now getting paid to work on the project. While music remains Andres’ passion and he hopes to create a new band, he is excited about his future and being a member of the Carpenters Union. “I’m a success,” he says, “I’m proud of myself.”

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