I have been committed to DYRS for the past 3 years and the multiple programs they offer have helped me progress tremendously. Since being involved with them, they have helped me get a job, put me in an internship and helped me get certifications. I have done a lot of programs before this, but the thing I am most proud of today is that I finished something I started. Now, I am a certified professional food handler and certified construction worksite flagger. None of that would have been possible if it wasn’t for the internship I’ve had under the work force development program sponsored by DYRS.
I have been committed for 4 years to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Since I have been in the [community-based] program, they have helped me with receiving my high school diploma. DYRS has counseled me so I can get back on the right path with my community. I was able to connect with Workforce Development and while in this program I was able to obtain my certification and become a Microsoft Office Specialist. Also, I attended Developing Youth Professionals Training. I was able to develop my resume and learn to job search and complete applications. I have applied for several jobs with my certification. I have an interviewed scheduled with [an office supply store] next week for a position as a Microsoft Specialist.
[My mentor] is a good man who has helped me in many ways. I am really grateful that he has been there for me in my times of need. For example, when I was trying to obtain my GED, he was there every step of the way encouraging me. He helped me understand that without an education the chances of being successful in life will decrease. He gave me the extra push and motivation to stick through and complete the program. With his assistance, I have obtained my GED and I’m currently employed.
Additional story from #3 - Mentoring
I remember a few times when things were very rough at home and my family did not have any food supplies. My mentor made sure that I had enough food to eat and purchased food for our home. From those moments, I accepted the fact that he was there to help me. When I had problems in my last group home, I called him and he provided me with positive advice, and took me for a ride to vent. That was a simple thing, but it allowed me to not get into further trouble. I appreciate the fact that when I called my mentor, he was always available to me. And it meant a lot to me when he asked how I was doing, how was my mom, and how were things going in terms of my compliance. I’m thankful for the role that my mentor played in my life and I know of many other youth in my community who can benefit from the program like I did.
For the last 6 months my mentor has helped me out a lot with school by helping me get there on time and making sure I have a ride there every day. He checks on my attendance to see if I am going, and if I miss one day he always asks me why. Then he goes with me to my school to find out if we can get the work that I missed that day. I used to miss 2-3 days a week of school and wasn’t doing my best. Since having a mentor, I hardly miss days at all and my grades have really started to improve. He knows when I am falling off track with school or feeling unmotivated and he helps me get back on track by telling me to do better and inspiring me to focus on positive and important things. When we first met, I wasn’t on the right track, but as the months started to pass, I noticed I found a job, earned a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification, and I am about to graduate high school!
My mentor is a committed person; he is always there when I need him all the time. When I didn’t have food to eat, or maybe didn’t have a way to pick up my daughter he was there. My mentor [is] always giving me positive attitude when it comes to encouraging, he motivates me to be a successful person in my life, when I wanted to give up on school and life but with the help of my mentor and the encouraging words, now today I can say if it wasn’t for my mentor I [would] not be graduating in the 2012 school year. He is always leading me in a positive direction such as a father would lead a son. He is always putting his personal life and business aside just to attend to my personal life. I really didn’t have any male figure growing up just me and my mom. I had to learn from the streets, but everything changed when my mentor showed me the correct direction to be a smarter, stronger and successful man that I am today.
Story #6 - Work
Up until I met my mentor I never really understood the impact a mentor could have on a youth’s life. I really did not have any reliable support in my life until my mentor came into the picture. I learned and took something positive from my mentor every time we were together. He always came through when [other people] could not support me; he tries his best to make sure I am taken care of. For example, my mentor helped me with transportation money to get back and forth to my internship or any other important place I had to go. My mentor bought me ties, dress shirts, and slacks that were very nice and also beneficial to me because it enabled me to dress professionally for the job I wanted every day and even today. I would not know how I would have gotten to work if he would not have come through to help me and that could have affected my progress.
Story #6 - Education
Before I went to [a school away from DC], my mentor helped me get the required items that were on my packing list because my guardian did not have the money to do so. If I did not have the required items that were on my packing list then I would not have gone to the program that drastically made a difference in my life and marked the turning point for me. My mentor introduced me to a family member who is also at the school, who invited me to spend time with them on family day. I felt left out because every student was having a great time with their family, and showing them what they learned until I got an offer to spend time with my mentor’s family. My mentor did not have to do any of this, but he did it because his goal was to make me a better person and he wanted to be part of my life and make a difference, which he did.
When I came to DYRS, I was considered a threat to the community and public safety and quite frankly, I did not believe that most of the people I net in the system really understood or cared. That changed when I met my mentor. He didn’t judge me but talked to me about the situations that led me to getting my charge. I shared with him that for years my mother had been struggle with a serious issue and my mentor has been the person helping me to remain patient and supportive of my siblings in a way that does not put me in a bad situation. In fact, [my mentor’s] mother died recently after years of struggle with some of the same problems.
He encouraged me to take my education seriously and told me that he would hold me accountable for doing so and forced me to promise him that I would get my GED. Recently, I delivered on my promise and I got my GED. He was there every step of the way encouraging me and in some instances he sat down with me and helped me prepare. Today, I’m currently employed and thankful for the role that my mentor played in my life. It means a lot to me when he asks how I’m doing, and how my mom is doing. He is like a father to me, because he is the first man that I truly want to make proud.
I came to the [community-based mentoring program] as a youth that needed exposure and motivation in order to go to college. Now I stand before you motivated and now attending college in a nearby state. Plain and simple, the mentoring program was the pivotal point at which my life turned around. While receiving mentoring services, I had the opportunity to attend several college tours, which gave me the drive and motivation to achieve higher heights.
The mentoring program allowed me to truly understand what it means to be a leader that takes responsibility for his life and his actions. I would have never thought in a million years that I would be in college and thinking about starting a business to help youth that have been committed and detained with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. If youth would like to see what the mentoring program and DYRS are capable of doing, look at my life and understand that everybody has shortcomings, but through team work and leadership we all can be leaders of tomorrow.