Todd discusses the dedication of YouthBuild staff and how YouthBuild helped him overcome educational challenges, earn industry recognized certifications, and begin his career in construction.
I grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo, NY. I have seven sisters and two brothers. Growing up for me was tough; as a child in the 4th grade, I was diagnosed with ADHD. In high school, it was hard for me to function, dealing with social anxieties. My behavior and social issues caused me to drop out at 16. However, at 19, I obtained my GED and applied to the Building Management and Maintenance program at Erie Community College.
Just before classes started, I was an innocent bystander in a shootout. A bullet was launched into my hip, causing me to drop out of college. That is when I found the YouthBuild program.
At my local program, the staff really have a passion for helping the youth they serve, both personally and professionally. During my YouthBuild term, I gained many certifications to help me throughout my career. After a short time in the program, I was unanimously elected the Student Council President, which gave me the capacity to be a voice for our whole class through policy input.
About a month into the program, I was accepted to attend YouthBuild USA’s Conference of Young Leaders (COYL) in Washington, D.C. While at COYL, I ran for a seat on the Young Leaders Council (YLC) with YouthBuild USA. I delivered a speech in front of YouthBuild USA’s CEO, and 200+ YouthBuild AmeriCorps members and staff from around the country. Later that day, I found out that I had made it onto the YLC, which gave me the opportunity to serve as a voice for our local program at a national level. I also completed various other trainings, equating to 900 hours of learning! These trainings resulted in me earning my certification to work as a security guard and two education awards.
At YouthBuild, the staff care, respect, and go out of their way to support the students; my Construction Instructor helped me get into a social justice and professional development program called Emerging Leaders. This program is helping me understand how our city works and how I can be a more effective leader to youth throughout the region. I also received the Spirit of Service Award for being the YouthBuild AmeriCorps 2018 National Member of the Year. I’ve developed many skills I could use in my workforce of choice, such as organizing projects, speaking effectively, and building positive working relationships.
My time with YouthBuild has been a life-changing experience. I’ve become a more effective leader for my peers, my family, and most importantly, my community. Since graduating, I am now a full-time AmeriCorps Member, working as an Assistant Construction Supervisor. This gives me the opportunity to lead a construction site while teaching hands-on construction skills.
I’m looking forward to growing with YouthBuild and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me here in Buffalo.