June is always a powerful month. The gardens are looking great, construction is in full gear, and we have the honor of witnessing Isles YouthBuild Institute (IYI) students graduate and begin the next phase of their lives.
These students make us proud, both because of where they have come from and now where they are going. Their challenges have been awesome – a number were homeless, with deep family health issues. A number were incarcerated, gang-connected, and on the way to a life in prison. Others have been abused. Nearly all had dropped out of high school.
For them, it seems obvious that traditional classroom settings will not work. Here at IYI, these 18 young men and women have overcome many obstacles to earn a diploma and found a last chance to learn how to learn, be employed, and self-reliant. They’ve learned to be accountable to each other and themselves, and to be responsible to their community. They’ve built sound relationships with friends, mentors, and staff. And, they have earned self-respect.
But the ‘proof is in the pudding’, as they say. One YouthBuild graduate, Lamar Allen, works for Princeton University’s dining services. Working with Isles Financial Solutions services being offered at Princeton University, he plans to buy a house this summer!