The greatest success story I can think of is a youth who came to us in 2016 through Youth Job Connection. He was very shy and disclosed to us that he had a learning disability and that his family wasn’t very supportive because his sister was a Queens University Alumni and they couldn’t understand why he wasn’t like her.
Through YJC he was unsuccessful at his placement at Dairy Queen. The manager expressed that he would put way too much pressure on himself and would make comments like, “I’m sorry for my poor performance and that I dishonored the opportunity you gave me.” The manager at Dairy Queen and the support staff in Youth Job Connection tried repeatedly to show the client that he was being too hard on himself.
Though his placement did not work out he bravely made the decision to leave his home and was accepted into Connections. During his time at Connections I noticed a change in his confidence. He became more outgoing and determined to better his life. He would use the gym regularly and meet with several staff members to make plans on how to become more independent. It was as if the weight of no longer having to live with his overbearing family gave him a new lease on life.
He began to work in our Kitchen part-time as a dish washer and soon his responsibilities increased because of his excellent performance. This was the same youth who felt overwhelmed by working at Dairy Queen in the dead of winter. He was now washing dishes and serving food for up 70 youth a day. He then moved into our Supportive Transitional Apartments for Youth (STAY). While at the STAY program his contract to work in the kitchen was renewed and eventually he was giving cooking responsibilities to assist Robin during the week and to operate the kitchen independently on the weekends.
He is now living at our Mill Street residence and continues to be a reliable employee in our kitchen. He is a perfect example of how our wrap around services can save a life, give people purpose, and inspire our youth to become the best versions of themselves.