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YouthBuild 2021 Annual Report

By Mendy Poole

Numbers speak. Let the numbers tell our story.

2,000. Vanderburgh County alone has 2,000 disconnected youth. A disconnected youth is someone 16-24 years old that is not employed, and not going to school. 

What are 2,000 students doing everyday, day in and day out? What is missing in their lives that is needed to complete their story, fulfill their goals and dreams? How can we help break barriers, bust stigmas, and “Build Better Lives?” 

$900,000. Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars. 40 months. 6 staff. Up to 50 students. And a community of stakeholders cheering them on, and investing in the lives of these young people! That is what the Department of Labor awarded YouthBuild Evansville in June 2021. We are given the chance to continue building, continue molding, shaping, and changing lives. 

The students came together, working on their High School Equivalency (over 2,000 hours), OSHA 30, and mindfulness practices. They have built resumes, applied for jobs, received driving permits, volunteered (Over 500 hours) at Evansville Rescue Mission, Borrowed Hearts, Homeless Council, Kissel Center, put on a community holiday meal sponsored by Youth Resources Make a Difference Grant, and made countless improvements in their lives, mentality, and personal growth.  

They have voice. They have a story to tell. Let their words speak hope.

When the official grant began, the students were split into three groups and tasked with coming up with a statement answering the question, “Why YouthBuild?” Each group had very similar answers that were combined into one statement that we recite everyday at the beginning of the day. “I feel empowered to break cycles, by gaining accountability in my belief that can’t isn’t an option, and that I can achieve success through integrity, reinforcements, and believing I can change anything I put my mind to because I matter, I'm worthy, and I deserve opportunities and second chances.” 

“ I don’t have anyone to talk to forreal forreal. That is why I am thankful to have you.”  

“ I wish you could’ve been my teacher all along, I would have made it the first time.” 

“ I’m going to college, then coming back to work here, will you hire me?” 

“I got this card in my mailbox, and I knew it was time, I knew it was my time to change.”

“What are we doing for Thanksgiving, we family, we ain't got no family outside of here”

“ I love hearing you say I love you, because I know it's genuine, it's nice to know if something happens to me, someone will miss me.”

Tomorrow is a new day, every day. We are family. We do life. We “empower” life, love, and hope. We “Build Better Lives.”