Antonio used his experience at YouthBuild to build a life and a family that he could be proud of.
The life-changing experience of losing a friend to street violence was a pivotal point in Antonio’s life. He was stuck in that moment, trying to decide whether to retaliate, as street life had taught him, or to refocus and turn his life around. If he turned his life around, he would work to achieve new personal goals and some of the goals of his best friend. Goals his friend had just discussed with Antonio moments before his passing. Antonio’s life then had not been that easy by far or the best planned. He lived his life at that time day-to-day and without a care in the world.
Now, Antonio is the co-founder of United At Peace Inc., a local grassroots not-for-profit. He continues to serve as a consultant in the areas of youth development and community organizing and outreach. Previously, Antonio served as the branch director of the YMCA of Rockford Community Outreach Branch from 2010 to 2013, and coordinator for the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers from 2006 to 2010.
His humble beginnings were as a 2000 YouthBuild Rockford graduate. He enrolled in YouthBuild Rockford because, although he had attended and barely graduated East High School in 1998, he was not well equipped to navigate his way to a successful future, much less a career.
After YouthBuild, however, Antonio became the first person in the state of Illinois and the second in the nation to complete a two-year term as a Youth Development Practitioner Apprentice, a position that was created by the US Department of Labor to strengthen and professionalize the field of youth development.
He was first in his family to attend college, receiving his associate degree from Rock Valley College, along with serving as the commencement speaker.
Antonio has continued to be a leader who is involved with and serves his community. He was a board member for CCS YouthBuild Rockford and La Voz Latina; he was the president of District 205 Bilingual Department Parent Advisory Committee.
Currently, Antonio is a member of the Coalition of Latino Leaders (where he has been a longtime alumni advisor) and the Association of Latin American Students Club of Rock Valley College (he was the club’s president). His commitment and longtime involvement in the YouthBuild movement has also allowed Antonio to serve as a member of the board of directors for YouthBuild USA.
In addition to hosting conferences, facilitating workshops, and serving as a keynote speaker at various conferences, Antonio is a devoted father and family man.