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Safety Starts Park to Park

July 17, 2017

LFDOn July 16th, Lawrence Family Development and the Mayor's Office launched the next phase of the CIty's Community Safety plan. The inaugural "pop up party" was held at Dr. Nina Scarpito park on Brook Street. About eighty people dropped by the park between 1 and 4 on Sunday for a cookout and park games. Lawrence Family Development’s food service staff grilled hotdogs and hamburgers while members of the SISU Youth Team ran the park games. Lawrence Family Development set up mini-golf, ring toss, bean bag toss, and big block Jenga stations for the kids; while running a 3 on 3 basketball tournament for the local teenagers. Members of the Lawrence Fire DJ ChrisDepartment brought a ladder truck to the park for the kids to climb on, and took some time to shoot hoops with tournament players in between games. DJ Chris spun Latin and urban music throughout the day, while attendees beat the heat with water balloons. 

Sunday’s party was the first of six, supported through emergency funding proposed by the Mayor and passed by the City Council in April. In addition to the parties, the funding supports adding three additional street outreach workers to the SISU street outreach team; diana Facepainttwo of those street outreach workers were on hand Sunday to help with the party. “I grew up in this City and hung out in these parks as a kid. I got in trouble in these same parks as a young man. Because of this I am grateful to be working with the SISU team and the City to keep other young people from making some of the same mistakes I made.” said one of the new outreach workers, Angel Vasquez. 

During the week prior to the party, members of the Lawrence Family Development SISU landscaping team spent several days cleaning up the park, picking up trash, and mowing the lawns. 

Additional pictures.
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College for a Day

image1On May 3, 2017, participants in the SISU program had the opportunity to spend some time at the Northern Essex Community College (NECC) “College for a Day” program. Participants were given a tour of the Lawrence Campus and were able to sit in on a class.

Experiences like the “College for a Day” program are instrumental to LFD’s goal of changing the dialogue around college. Because of this program, SISU participants who had never thought of going to college have realized that it is very real opportunity.

"This is my first time in this place, I can't believe no one has ever believed in me enough to bring me here and show me this" C.R.

Another participant who had never dreamed of going to college took the initiative to sign up for classes after sitting in a psychology class.

Thanks to NECC and the College for a Day program, what had once seemed beyond their reach, has now become a very reachable goal.

Special thanks to the SISU Transition Specialist, Allishah Mohammed, for making this day happen.
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Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed

On Thursday March 30, 2017, youth, youth advocates,street outreach workers, law enforcement, and law makers gathered at the Massachusetts State House in Boston to advocate for continued funding of the Shannon Grant and Safe and Successful Youth Initiative programs. These grants support intervention and prevention focused youth programs in Cities across the state and are integral pieces in community efforts to address issues of youth violence. 

Members of Lawrence Family Development's SISU program (Lawrence Youth Team and YouthBuild Lawrence) joined the youth voices echoing throughout the State House's Great Hall and testifying to their legislators about the importance of these proven programs.

LYT member, Christian Acosta was one of two youth voices chosen to share his story during the event. 

"Good Morning State Officials,Honorable Guests, Mentors and Peers:

CA speechMy name is Christian Acosta and I am proudly from Lawrence MA.

Growing up in Lawrence, has not been an easy road for me. At the age of eleven, I got taken away from my parents because of an unstable home environment – it was at that point my entire life changed. For the next 3 years, I was in and out of jail. Having to practically raise myself throughout my entire childhood, life has not been easy for me. Struggles and hardships seemed endless….that was until a pivotal moment in my life where the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative or Lawrence Youth Team saved me.

I was first introduced to LYT by the then educational liaison at Department of Youth Services and the LYT Program Manager. I did not think that LYT could help me or change my way of thinking. Being reliant on myself for so long, I was struggling outside of the program- selling drugs, engaging in harmful behavior….I was losing myself. I remember the exact day I went to program, I had no money, no food – the only people I could think of at that one moment of desperation was the staff at LYT. They put me straight to work and taught me the tough lesson,

'Closed mouths don’t get fed..' 

This is actually a quote we use a lot during our time at LYT. I worked on improving myself and fast forward five years later, I am standing here before you, a changed man.

What LYT offers me is a family – our program manager is like my older brother, my case manager is like an aunt, street workers are like my old, wise uncles and LYT youth are my brothers. During my time in the program I was able to gain opportunities in construction, demolition, and landscaping. One of the greatest achievements of my life has been gaining entry into college, where I am currently studying Psychology. I also received a full time job with  Lawrence Family Development  where I hold the position of Construction Assistant Trainer at the SISU Center– it is with great pride that I am able to mentor and motivate my Lawrence brothers and sisters every day.

I just want to end by stating that in Lawrence, there was no teen center for youth such as myself for a number of years. I remember LYT staff working out of their cars, they had no offices…they worked truly from their hearts. Now I am happy to state that Lawrence Family Development has taken the initiative to form a comprehensive youth system that will help youth throughout our city better themselves"

In February of 2017, Christian was hired as a full time employee by Lawrence Family Development to fill the role of Carpentry Trainer. Christian is replacing long time YouthBuild Lawrence staff member Domingo Corona. Domingo was with YouthBuild Lawernce for 15 years and similar to Christian, started at the organization as a program participant. Originally a YouthBuild Lawrence participant, Domingo was hired full time as a Carpentry Trainer because of his commitment to his family, his community, and the mission of YouthBuild. 

We know that Christian will do himself, his community, his LYT family, and Lawrence Family Development proud and will continue to pave the way Domingo started, 15 years ago, for other participants in our SISU program.  
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College Bound

August 1, 2016

YB NECCCycle 21 is looking like a historic year for YouthBuild Lawrence in many ways. One of those, which we are incredibly proud of is, the highest number of students pursuing dual enrollment in college and YouthBuild. This year, five of our young women are enrolled in the Northern Essex Community College’s Bridge Program. The Bridge program is a two week introduction to college classes, campus life and how to utilize all of the colleges’ many resources. The Bridge Program is sponsored by the Student Success Center for incoming Latino(a) college students and is designed to help ease students’ adjustment to college life and build a foundation for academic success. 

The partnership between YouthBuild Lawrence and NECC ensures that the students will achieve their goals of graduating college to pursue the career of their dreams. The students were encouraged by YouthBuild Lawrence’s Coordinator of Placement and Career Services, Allishah Mohammed.

YouthBuild studentparticipants from left to right, Gloria Martinez, Diana Rivera, Emerald Vasquez, Alonda Mercedes, and Karina Gabin.
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SISU = Success

June 23, 2016

PA2Yesterday was a milestone for YouthBuild Lawrence and the Lawrence Youth Team. An unforgettable experience happened as Project Adventure (PA) brought together two different groups of young people, each with unique backgrounds, to work as one team with one goal. A great team of staff not only encouraged each participant but also kept them engaged and motivated when they didn't want to participate.

“Coming together as one and overcoming different obstacles is what The SISU center is all about. I'm sure some people were skeptical about how it would go, but if we had to pick one word for today it would have to be success.”

All of the young people participated in one way or another. Some stayed within their comfort zone while others were more open, yet they all took something with them. There is no doubt in my mind. The SISU Center is about resiliency, teamwork, and dedication, all of which were displayed by the participating young people and staff. We have no doubt that this is the beginning of great things!

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Playhouse Palooza

April 26, 2016

PlayhouseFor the past several months, YouthBuild Lawrence Cohort 21 students have been building houses in Lawrence. After completing work on 165 West Street, the program moved on to another project... as part of “Playhouse Palooza”.

CASA Palozoo PlayhouseBetween April 15-24, the Essex County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) hosted their second annual “Playhouse Palooza” at the Northshore Mall in Peabody. Raffle tickets, one for $5 and five for $20, were sold to win four one-of-a-kind playhouses constructed and donated by Youth Build Lawrence, as well as North Shore CDC Youth Build, The Knights of Columbus Masconomo Council, and Brossi Realty of Northbridge. The playhouses were on display in the Macy’s court, and the drawing was held on April 24.

After completing the donated Playhouse, the YouthBuild Lawrence Construction team has continued working with the students to build several additional playhouses. This project provides excellent training for YouthBuild Lawrence's next big project at 213 Jackson Street in Lawrence. Good breaking on the Jackson Street project is tentatively scheduled to occur in early May of 2016.

YBKids Playhouse

For more information on the Playhouse project, contact YouthBuild Lawrence.
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YouthBuild Lawrence Accepting Applications

paul12Do you know of a young person between the ages of 16 and 24 who would like to attain his/her HiSET (GED) or has a high school diploma and would like to transition into College?

YouthBuild Lawrence is now accepting applications for the 2016 program cycle. Interested young people, between the ages of 16 to 24 and living in the Greater Lawrence area, should visit YouthBuild Lawrence at the historic Orange Wheeler House for one of our information sessions. Sessions are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 2:45 PM.

To find out if you are a fit or to requst complete an initial request for more information visit our webpage  
If you know of a young person between the ages of 16 and 24 who would like to attain his/her HiSET (GED) or has a high school diploma and would like to transition into college, feel free to let them know YBL hosts
WHEN: Every Tuesday and Thursday
TIME: 2:45 PM
PLACE: YouthBuild Lawrence
355 Haverhill Street, Lawrence
Phone number: 978-681-0548
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YouthBuild Graduates Honored by YouthBuild USA and Attorney General Healey

November 3, 2015

Attorney GeneralHealey YouthBuild GraduatesOn Monday, October 26th YouthBuild Graduate Glenda Liz Santiago joined Attorney General Maura Healey, Dorothy Stoneman YouthBuild Founder and other Massachusetts YouthBuild graduates at this year’s YB USA “Building Better Together” event hosted by Nixon Peabody-Boston, MA. 

Ms. Santiago presented an eloquent speech describing her life before YouthBuild, the amazing impact YouthBuild has had on her life and her gratitude to the staff for their genuine commitment to assist her to reach her potential and encouragement of never giving up.

Since graduating YouthBuild-Lawrence in 2011, Ms. Santiago earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Certificate in Law Enforcement from Northern Essex Community College.  Subsequently, she took and passed the Civil Service Exam and completed an internship at the Lawrence Police Department.  Presently, she is a transfer student at Salem State University where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in forensic science with a minor in biology.  In the future, she wants to attend medical school and become a forensic pathologist.

Ms. Santiago is the proud mom to a beautiful son and daughter and works a Therapeutic Mentor at Children’s Friends & Families.
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YouthBuild Students Discuss Social Justice Issues around the Armenian Genocide

October 27, 2015

genocideThis year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a horrific tragedy which occurred during 1915-1923 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. On October 23, 2015, Lawrence Family Development YouthBuild Students proudly hosted Ara Jeknavorian and Tom Vartabedian, descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, who shared their personal stories and spoke about the genocide in the context of the ultimate violation of human rights. They shared the atrocious events on the genocide and Rody Lopez, YouthBuild student, commented “It’s crazy how they killed so many people and how everyone forgot about it.”

Mr. Jeknavorian and Mr. Vartabedian are part of an organization called the Armenian Genocide Curriculum Committee of the Merrimack Valley that strives to provide greater insight about why the genocide occurred and how it set the stage and enabled subsequent genocides such as the Jewish holocaust as well as the Bosnian, Rwandan and Cambodian genocides. The organization provides complementary educational resources to local schools. Karlos Delecruz, YouthBuild student and vice-president of the school’s student government, appropriately said “During the genocide they killed millions. It should be in the history books. People need to learn about this.”

While at YouthBuild, students learn about many social justice issues and strive to make their community a better place. For example, while preparing for High School Equivalency exams, students strategize ways to solve complex problems such a bullying and access to healthcare. Additionally, as part of the vocational component of the program, YouthBuild students build affordable housing addressing homelessness and access to home ownership. YouthBuild seeks to educate our opportunity youth to be leaders and powerful agents of change here in the city of Lawrence.
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Orange Wheeler Clip

October 3, 2015

OWCLipThis past week, YouthBuild Lawrence released their newsletter, the Orange Wheeler Clip. The clip highlights some of YouthBuild's most recent accomplishments, including HiSET achievements, successful internships, and a group building field trip to Project Adventure. 

YouthBuild has also opened up the recruitment process for YouthBuild Cycle 21, begining in Feburary of 2016. To read the clip, download here
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Alternative Youth Program Kitchen

September 16, 2015
DavidAfter months of work and setbacks due to weather, LFD's Culinary Arts training kitchen is permitted and functional. The completion of the kitchen is just one of the steps towards the expansion of programming and services offered by LFD to Lawrence young people.

When the final permits were issued on Monday morning, Culinary Arts Coordinator, David Wilmer, was finally able to start preparing meals for the YouthBuild and Lawrence Youth Team participants; and preparing participants for a career in food services.

"Its great to finally get this space up and running. I am excited to be able to share a craft that I love with Alterantive Youth Development Program participants." 

The kitchen was built by the amazing LFD facilities team with support from a number of funders, including the City of Lawrence Department of Community Development, the Moselely Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation.
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9/11 Ceremony Lawrence MA., 2015

September 14, 2015

911YBWith the help of Lieutenant Flynn of the Lawrence Fire Department, YouthBuild Lawrence students helped make Lawrence’s 9/11 ceremony a great success. Originally, YB students were supposed to clean the central fire station’s trucks. Due to rainy weather this project was cancelled and our students swept the station in preparation for the ceremony. Lieutenant Flynn led the ceremony with remembrance and an introduction to the new Fire Chief, Brian Moriarty, who also spoke of the 9/11 event.

Brief introductions of State Representative Marcos Devers and Councilman Toomey were also acknowledged. Senator Barbara La’Italien arrived post ceremony and mingled with the crowd. She had been at a previous ceremony. Donuts and coffee were on hand for everyone.

Photos and videos were taken by our YouthBuild student, Karim Palmer. Posters were made by our students in memory to remind all,” Do Not Forget.”

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North Shore Magazine

September 3, 2015

YouthBuild NorthShore MagThe September issue of NorthShore magazine features an article on the great work being done at our own YouthBuild Lawrence, with quotes from LFD's Director of Alternative Youth Programs, April Lyskowksy. 

Check it out online at the link below.
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