In the Y’s Teen Programs, I found mentors and friends.
Pathways to Success
I was born in Cape Verde and came to the United States when I was in grade school. I wasn’t the most motivated student, and I didn’t really do much outside of school. I just hung out in my room or with my friends on the street corner. We were hungry one day and someone heard there was free food at the YMCA of Greater Boston.
We got lunch, and then started playing ball there. Shortly after, I discovered the Teen Center, and then the teen programs. That was the first visit of what would become so many more.
Q: Why did you originally get involved with the YMCA?
A: Before coming to the Y I didn’t really do too much. I would just hang out in my room or on the corner with my friends. One of those days, a friend of mine said he heard the YMCA had free lunch. We were all hungry, so we went, and then I was hooked.
Q: Did you know anything about the Y before you joined?
A: I didn’t really think the Y was for me, or for teenagers. I thought it was a place for adults to work out. I found out it was so much more.
Q: How did the Y change your life for good?
A: I started hanging out here more, in the Y Teen Center. I found a whole new group of friends here. They would be there after school doing their homework, so I started doing my homework with them. They motivated me. And we played ball together, too. I felt safe here, comfortable. I also got to know the staff really well and they became my mentors.
Q: What was your favorite Y program?
A: My favorite Y program was a class on investing and how to be a young entrepreneur. Now I’m interested in electrical engineering and am on a pathway to success. After that class, I taught myself to fix iPhones and started a little business which has helped me save money for college.
Q: How did the Y help you with college?
A: The staff helped me with college applications and organized college campus tours, here and in Washington, D.C. It was so interesting and helpful to see and understand my options.
Q: How has the Y changed your life for good?
A: I was really immature before. The staff at the Y would correct me and let me know when my behavior or language was inappropriate. They cared for me and looked after me. They even helped me get my first job. They gave me the skills I need to succeed in school and life.
Q: Why should people give to the Y?
A: The Y gave me the space, people and support I needed to change my life for good. I feel that the Y cares about me, and about everyone that is part of their community.