Building Futures at the Scott Bibb Center

Hello, all! Welcome to more Building Futures YouthBuild/AmeriCorps news. Since the first blog post in January of 2017, the students have been working hard participating in CNA and information technology, construction, leadership development, career readiness and GED preparation courses.

As a satellite site for Lewis and Clark Community College, the Scott Bibb Center (SBC) is important to the Alton community as a whole but especially for the residents that reside in the Hunterstown area. I myself PROUDLY claim Hunterstown as my place of origin and home. According to www.altonweb.com, Charles Hunter, an Alton developer who presumably Hunterstown is named after, was also noted as on of “Alton’s best known Underground Railroad conductors.” The Hunterstown area founded in 1830 consisted of many free and escaped slaves as residents.

The Hunterstown area, founded in 1830, consisted of many free and escaped slaves as residents. Still, to this day Hunterstown predominantly has an African American population. For those individuals without transportation who reside in the Hunterstown area, the SBC represents a community center in which individuals can participate in many of the Lewis and Clark Community College programs, including GED preparation, YouthBuild, Family Literacy and Daycare, Project Read and Highway Construction.

In years past the SBC was used also as a Computer Technology Center (CTC). Through grant funding, the SBC was utilized by community residents as a place where they could venture within walking distance to update their resumes, apply for jobs and check emails, among a list of other things. During this time period, individuals like Derrik Hubbard used the CTC quite frequently.

Derrik in the Classroom

Derrik Hubbard poses for his official Building Futures YouthBuild Full-Time AmeriCorp Member Position faculty badge.

Derrik was a regular! He grew up in Hunterstown under the supervision of various foster care homes. I myself vividly remember watching Derrik playing basketball on a small breakaway rim in the alley off of Spring Street as a child. Although we were not peers due to the proximity in location of our homes Derrik and I have known of each other, practically our whole lives!

Growing up in the foster care system, Derrik experienced difficulties that caused social traumas that hindered him from forming healthy relationships. We see social traumas in the reflection of the daily news. When social traumas exist coupled with cultural differences, the end result leads to volatile social interactions. Derrik, like so many of YouthBuild students, came into the program with a legitimate chip on his shoulder.

Therein lies the significance of the SBC in the Hunterstown area. The faculty and staff participate in diversity training and human resource policies that equip them with needed abilities. Even though they may come from a variety of different cultural backgrounds, they are aware of the true hardships and struggles that their students face. They understand that a person’s behavior cannot just be dismissed as a superficial cognitive or behavioral disorder, but that those behaviors are rooted in real life problems with consequences and results that affect the human psyche.

For example, say a theoretical student, “John,” has perfect attendance in class, but he is rarely attentive and often sleeps during class. Whenever questioned about his lack of participation or about sleeping in class, he responds in a very hostile and defensive manner. In addition, he lashes out in defense and becomes very verbally aggressive whenever he feels like he is backed into a corner.

During a faculty meeting to discuss how to address “John’s” unacceptable behaviors, it is decided that a counselor should be brought in to speak to “John.” The SBC has an onsite counselor available to speak to students. Through several counseling sessions, it is discovered that “John” couch hops every night from one friend’s house to another, or sometimes has nowhere to stay and sleeps wherever he can. “John,” at times, goes days without eating and is ashamed to let anyone know of his situation in fear of being looked down upon. This is the core of the problem of “John’s” anti-social and counterproductive behaviors. The staff at the SBC is trained and effective in identifying and finding solutions to alter a student’s behavior, while connecting the student to social services through referrals.

This example was not particularly Derrik’s case. None the less, Derrik and the faculty experienced their fair share of trying times, to say the least. Derrik at one point was not allowed to come to the SBC due to his disruptive behaviors. But, the faculty and staff at the SBC have “BIG HEARTS” and are always willing to give a second, third or fourth try to an individual, until they are finally ready to take life head on. Derrik, after a period of time, realized the errors of his ways and apologized for his past behaviors. He was then allowed to take advantage of services rendered at the SBC.

Derrick Working

Derrik clears debris for Senior Services Plus (SSP) parking lot replacement.

Derrik for the first time followed all the rules and interacted with every faculty member in a respectful and caring manner. Ironically, through all the bad that the faculty had experienced with Derrik, they also grew fond of him. They always knew Derrik was a good person; he just needed time to discover what he really wanted out of life. And, then the faculty at the SBC did the unthinkable (gasps!!!!) and recommended Derrik for the Building Futures YouthBuild Full-Time AmeriCorps Member Position. Derrik now receives a small stipend to assist with living costs and works as a liaison for the program with the students and the community in regards to facilities maintenance.

Derrick Working 2

Derrik dumping debris from an unfinished parking lot at SSP in preparation for parking lot replacement.

To find out the rest of Derrik’s story and how the SBC is important to the Hunterstown area, tune into the next Building Futures YouthBuild blog post!

Until the next time….

Pat Mays
Community Services Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King

A New Year of Building Futures

Hello, all! Welcome to the Building Futures YouthBuild/AmeriCorps blog.

2017 has arrived!  As we enter a new year, Building Futures YouthBuild is preparing itself for the arrival of a new batch of students ready and eager for their next phase of life.

After enjoying the holidays, the faculty have returned to the newly remodeled Scott Bibb Center (SBC) to “knock the dust off” before the students arrive.

Scott Bibb Center

The Scott Bibb Center is located at 1004 East 5th Street in Alton, Ilinois.

When arriving at the SBC on the first day of this semester, it was as dark as the somewhat eerie photo above. (But, just look at our new sign!) I found myself the first in the building. I walked down the hallway, automatic lights on the ceiling activated with each step, sparking my vivid and childlike imagination of the Michael Jackson video “Billie Jean,” which I must admit, enticed me to live out my pop star fantasies with MJ like pizazz, mimicking the dance move below I had practiced for countless hours as a child but could never perfect!

Billie Jean

I only wish I could dance like Micheal Jackson.

As I completed the spin, balancing myself on my tippy toes successfully for the first time in life for more than 2 seconds, my celebration ended before it began as I found myself gazing at the eye in the sky, a security camera! Brought back to the reality that I was a working professional, I quickly scampered off to my office hoping I did not have to start off the year with a barrage of MJ jokes and verbal hazing from security for the next three months should someone run across the footage.

One would ask why embarrass yourself with this story? Well honestly, I have no shame for a good cause!  I laughed as I entered my office, but it made me realize something: just how youthful the students keep the entire faculty, including me, and how their passion for life inspires me. I have no excuse for hanging my head over my disappointments.

Each year, students fill the SBC, bringing this eerie building to life with their laughter and joy. Despite the pressing, adult situations a lot of them face, they possess the courage to press on. I realized why I felt so warm and fuzzy coming into the building. While on holiday break, I was around friends and family, but with the same anticipation I counted until the last day of the fall semester, I immediately felt the same excitement about my return from break. I realized the reason is because the faculty and the students are my family and friends, as well. The family-like environment that Lewis and Clark Community College has provided YouthBuild, just like so many families, is filled full of ups and downs, disagreements, love, life and laughter.

I am proud to help students find their paths and eager to begin a new cohort! This year our YouthBuild students will be offered three career pathways:

Construction

Construction

Building Futures YouthBuild students worked with a team from local Lowe’s stores to improve private homes along Central Avenue in Alton, Monday, June 20, 2016. The students and volunteers painted, rebuilt fences and stained a deck, among other work, all of which is part of the program’s long-term Central Avenue Beautification Project. Photo by Laura Inlow, L&C Media Services Manager

Health Sciences

Nurse Assistant

Lindsey Arico (right) graduated from Lewis and Clark Community College and now is a certified nurse assistant/receptionist in the Family Health Clinic at L&C. Photo by S. Paige Allen, Lewis and Clark Community College photographer/media specialist

Information Technology

Information Technology

Not only will Building Futures YouthBuild students be able to acquire a technical overview of modern information technology, but the schedule is designed so that they will also earn college credits. Students will be able to follow the Digital Leadership curriculum, AND graduates will earn 17 college credit hours toward their degree in Computer Networking in one year. After the first year, successful students will graduate with CompTIA A+ certification and a Certificate of Completion in Computer System Technology. Once the program is completed, students are well on their way to one of three advanced Certificates of Proficiency or an Associate in Applied Science degree.

For those of you who are new to this blog, Building Futures YouthBuild Director Sabrina Davis best summarizes what we do:

“Building Futures YouthBuild is about helping students transition into their career interests after completing their GED®. All 16-24 year olds that are looking to finish their GED® and build a future for themselves would definitely benefit from being a part of the YouthBuild movement. The New Year will be a great opportunity for students to get a fresh start, and Building Futures YouthBuild is the place to begin. Transformation looks different for all young people, and we want to make sure that we are providing multiple pathways to help satisfy those needs.
~ Sabrina Davis

A 2016 YouthBuild graduate Andre Ewing said, “If I didn’t go to YouthBuild, I would still have an average job. In my opinion, if you are considering joining YouthBuild, you should definitely give it a try.  As long as you stick to it, you will enjoy it. Stick with it. In the end, it is really worth it.”

Andre Ewing

Andre Ewing, center, was one of 128 students earned their General Equivalency Diplomas (GEDs) through Lewis and Clark Community College’s Adult Education department and the Regional Office of Education Adult Learning Center in 2016. Now, he is a student in Lewis and Clark Community College’s Welding program.

For more information or to sign up for January’s 2017 cohort please contact:

Student services coordinator, Sherrie Kirbach at 618.468.4113 or Director, Sabrina Davis at 618.468.4150.

To learn more about YouthBuild, visit www.lc.edu/youthbuild.

Until the next time signing off…

Pat Mays
Community Services Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King

Building Future Forms Partnerships to Boost Mentoring Program

Hello and welcome to another Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps blog post!

YWCA Executive Director Andrea Lamer

YWCA Executive Director Andrea Lamer assists her mentor with staining the Army Corps of Engineers outlook.

In an earlier blog post, All Students Need Mentors, we discussed the YouthBuild Mentoring program and how mentors assisted our students to complete the Army Corps of Engineers outlook. Well, I have exciting news!  Building Futures has formed new partnerships that will enhance the mentoring program. Let me give you a short recap from our previous blog of what the YouthBuild mentoring program is all about.

All Building Futures staff are trained to be caring mentors for students, while they are in the program. In order to provide adequate adult support for Building Futures graduates transitioning into employment or college, YouthBuild USA has developed a mentoring model to engage adult volunteers in 15-month mentoring relationships to assist students during this transition. Building Futures has obtained YouthBuild USA funds from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to create this mentoring model.

Lewis and Clark Community College’s Building Futures YouthBuild program has been a recipient of the OJJDP mentoring model since 2014. Two new partnerships has just been developed, which will strengthen the mentoring program. The first partnership, which is with Lewis and Clark sociology instructors and the criminal justice program, will assist students as they transition into post-secondary education. The second partnership, which is with Lowe’s, will provide more mentors, who will aid students, as they complete their GEDs and transition into college.

The first partnership allows YouthBuild students to vertically integrate into college by providing them with a mentor that is already in college. This establishes more of a peer-to-peer relationship, so when the student has obtained his/her GED they have a friend who is already familiar with Lewis and Clark Community College to assist them in their transition. This opportunity is also beneficial to the criminal justice program, as explained by Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Jessica Noble.

 “I see this internship as beneficial because my students will gain practical experience through a reputable organization. They will be able to learn soft skills, such as communication, positive attitude, mentoring and encouraging, and they will also gain work experience. A lot of my students want to work with troubled youth and this is one way for them to do this without having to wait until employment.This partnership definitely adds meaningfulness to my juvenile offender and corrections courses. As an instructor with a background in this field, I feel that this is an invaluable experience that can enhance a student’s learning through real world experience. It is not enough to simply tell an example, now they can really experience it.”

~ Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Jessica Noble.

Jessica Noble

Jessica Noble, second from left, presents Outstanding Criminal Justice Student Awards to Kimberly Bledsoe, Jacob Lively, Linsey Rice and Brittany Smith during the 39th Annual Lewis and Clark Community College Honors Ceremony.

As I mentioned, the second partnership is with Lowe’s. Local Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Alton and Glen Carbon have been integral partners in the Central Avenue Beautification project, donating $2,500 each toward materials, for a total of $5,000, along with 15 volunteer work hours. In addition, Lowe’s has also agreed to become a mentor. Adrienne Portell, Alton Lowe’s store manager explained Lowe’s interest in partnering with YouthBuild.

Lowe’s is excited to partner with YouthBuild because we share similar core values of being a part of something bigger and making a difference in someone’s day, every day. Lowe’s has had several very positive experiences partnering with YouthBuild in the past, and we are excited to continue to build our relationship with YouthBuild and our community. I do have personal interests in partnering with YouthBuild. As a teenager, I know that having a positive mentor in my life helped me look past life’s circumstances and helped me realize my full potential. Having been graced with having such amazing people in my life, I feel drawn to help in any way I can and be a positive mentor to those in similar situations. I am excited to be able to bring a strong partnership to the table with YouthBuild. As a home improvement retailer, we have a plethora of resources and expertise in the home improvement sector, as well as strong business acumen and several advanced degrees from our senior staff that we are excited to draw from to help anyone who may benefit from the expertise we bring.”

~ Alton Lowe’s Manager Adrienne Portell

Adrienne Portell

Adrienne Portell, from Lowes, stands with YouthBuild Director Sabrina Davis, at the Youthbuild Central Ave. Beautification Project Kickoff.

Check out more photos from the Youthbuild Central Ave. Beautification Project Kickoff:

Central Avenue Project 6.20.16 8L4B1366

After reading this blog If you or your organization is interested in becoming a mentor and making a change in a young person’s life please contact me at 618.468.4159.

Until the next time signing off…

Pat Mays
Community Services Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

 

YouthBuild is Seeking Volunteers for its Central Avenue Beautification Project

Summer Beach

Image Source

Hello all! Welcome to more Building Futures YouthBuild/AmeriCorps news.

As the seasons change, we are embarking on the summer months. For most people this brings vivid images of summer fun, water activities, barbecues and quality family time. Most people are grasping at the opportunities that summer brings, like vacations and memories we will never forget.

Although vacations are great, a lot of our days will be found among our daily hectic lives of juggling work, school, children’s schedules and the vast amount of bills that never seem to stop popping up. As we progress in our lives by graduating high school, attending college, starting or continuing careers, we become consumed by everything going on.

We often think that our struggles are the worst struggles, and, if they are not, they are pretty close. We take for granted that, even though we may not be where we want to be, we are not where we could possibly be. With all that being said, I will ask you to take a moment to envision what It would be like if you didn’t have your job? What If you lacked an education? What if you were not equipped with the skills, opportunities and pathways you have had to make your life what it is today? How would your summer look?

As of May 16 2016, the Building Futures program began an orientation for 15 new YouthBuild/AmeriCorps members who have made the commitment to bettering themselves and their communities this summer. They have started the journey of a newly implemented structure of the YouthBuild program which will take them on a yearlong intensive GED and Job skills training regimen.

This summer they will enjoy the cool air conditioning at the newly remodeled Scott Bibb center in the morning but by lunch time things will drastically change. They will be moving outside for a good cause to apply there contextualized job skills training to add to the Building Futures Central Avenue Beautification Project.

Youthbuild Central Avenue Beautification Project Kickoff

YouthBuild Director Sabrina Davis speaks to students and volunteers at the Youthbuild Central Avenue Beautification Project Kickoff.

The Central Avenue Beautification Project is a scope of work developed by Building Futures YouthBuild to identify the repair and beautification needs with the property owners and to help them meet those needs. At this time, the projected scope of work for most properties along Central Avenue will involve landscaping, structural repair, and painting or cleaning. Our expectation is that this will be an exciting partnership with the residents along Central Avenue and a benefit for all.

Students and mentors

Students and mentors paint and fix a fence at the circle of Central Ave.

We will be starting at Central Circle and ending at a vacant lot on East 4th street where we plan to help build a pocket park. The pocket park will feature raised garden beds and sitting areas as well as a community library box. Our work will effectively touch 60 homes at an estimated value of $30,000 dollars and will result in a much needed facelift for the street, and, if successful, lead to other projects of this type in the Alton area.

YouthBuild students and volunteers

YouthBuild students and volunteers rehab a garage on Central Ave.

So before you start planning your summer vacations and worrying about work, remember that there is a group of students that are doing whatever it takes to better their communities. They are looking for volunteers to help with this endeavor and hope to make a lasting impact for their fellow neighbors.

YouthBuild students and mentors

YouthBuild students and mentors repair a porch.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact the Building Futures YouthBuild/AmeriCorps Program, so we can help guide you to a great place where you can spend some of your summer days. It’s an opportunity to serve where there is a need!

Until the next time Signing off!

Pat Mays

YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King.

L&C Adult Education Department Hosts YouthBuild USA

Former YouthBuild Student

Former YouthBuild and current L&C Restoration Ecology student Andrew Middleton shares the opportunities YouthBuild provide him with conference goers. Photos by Louise Jett, Media Specialist

Hello all!  Welcome to another riveting Building Futures blog post!

YouthBuild USA is a membership organization that has built a robust network of 260 urban and rural YouthBuild programs in 46 states. They are sponsored and managed by local nonprofits, community colleges (including Lewis and Clark Community College), and public agencies whose primary funding source is the US Department of Labor (DOL) through the authorized federal YouthBuild program administered by the Employment and Training Administration at DOL. YouthBuild USA provides training and technical assistance, leadership development, funding for innovative program enhancements, and advocacy for these programs.

One of the initiatives that YouthBuild USA has been leading is the Postsecondary Education (PSE) Initiative, which has been supported by various foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Gap, over the past 7 years.

This spring’s PSE conference was hosted in partnership with Lewis and Clark Community College’s Building Futures YouthBuild program, which focuses on creating strong graduate support systems and interventions to increase the percentage of YouthBuild students completing high school and postsecondary credentials in the Alton/Godfrey area.

Fifty-sixty YouthBuild program directors, transition coordinators, instructors and postsecondary partners from across the nation attended this event. As with past conferences, Lewis and Clark Community College hosted workshops tailored to the learning needs of different groups of YouthBuild and postsecondary practitioners.

The event began Tuesday, April 26, at the Scott Bibb Center in Alton and was led by Building Futures students to highlight the College’s YouthBuild project and its various components. On Wednesday, conferees experienced Lewis and Clark’s beautiful campus and were exposed to our talented faculty and leadership. We also treated attendees to a college tour that highlighted initiatives which promote postsecondary success for adult education and YouthBuild students. The event closed at the Atrium hotel in Alton, Thursday morning.

Lewis and Clark Community College and the Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps program hosted the PSE convening as an opportunity to showcase the College and the talents of its faculty and staff as well as the promising practices Lewis and Clark uses to move students from Adult Education into college.

“It was an honor to be joined by other YouthBuild Programs across the nation to address the importance of post-secondary education placement for our opportunity youth,” L&C YouthBuild Director Sabrina Davis said. “We worked in collaboration with L&C faculty and leadership to deliver information that was both informative and inspiring. I was proud to be a part of a college that supports the YouthBuild mission and all students gaining access to higher education.”

Lewis and Clark Community College hosting the 2016 PSE Conference holds great significance. In today’s climate the State of Illinois has been experiencing turmoil as legislators and Governor Bruce Rauner are unable to compromise and agree on a state budget. The result of this stalemate at the Illinois State Capitol is the beginning of the dissolution of our state’s human service and higher education infrastructures.

Many Adult Education departments at community colleges across the state have had to downsize while others have completely shut down. Through effective leadership and support from Lewis and Clark Community College, the Adult Education Department has been able to avoid personnel layoffs and sustain programs offered throughout the college’s district.

The PSE Conference was held shortly after Lewis and Clark Community College Adult Education faculty and students visited the state capitol for “Legislative Awareness Day,”  which was held April 12 in Springfield.

Legislative Awareness Day

Illinois State Senator William R. Haine poses with students and staff members from L&C’s Adult Education department during Legislative Awareness Day, April 12.

“It is exciting to see students and staff come together from across the state to demonstrate their support of this great cause and to feel a part of the legislative process,” said Associate Dean of Adult Education Val Harris and Co-Chair of IACEA’s Legislative Committee. “Legislative Awareness Day is a wonderful demonstration of our association’s advocacy efforts.”

Even participates agree with Val, and the crowd was engaged throughout the event, at times chanting “Adult Ed Works!”

Until the next time, signing off……
Pat Mays
YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
– Dr. Martin Luther King.

YouthBuild and L&C Cares: The perfect match

Hello all!  Welcome to another riveting Building Futures YouthBuild blog post!

Lewis and Clark Community College has continued its volunteering efforts with “Lewis and Clark Cares,” a week-long initiative that was designed for L&C students to connect with community organizations and provide much needed volunteer man power.

This is the third year of the project, which coincides with National Volunteer Week, April 11 -15. The first year we had 70 students and last year we had 87 students who took the time from their busy schedules to make a difference in the community.

YB VW 1

A group of student volunteers from Student Government Association, Student Activities and Youthbuild pose on the student-built sculpture outside of Reid Hall for National Volunteer Week.

Lewis and Clark Community College is the sponsoring organization for the Building Futures YouthBuild Program.  Whenever it is feasible Building Futures attempts to involve our students in as many Lewis and Clark Community College activities as possible. “Lewis and Clark Cares” directly aligns with the Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps philosophy of community service and the YouthBuild Pledge which states:

BUILDING FUTURES YOUTHBUILD PLEDGE

We, the members of Building Futures YouthBuild, pledge that we are working together to improve and rebuild our community, as a sustainable entity, implementing green strategies, methods, and materials; to relate to each other in cooperative ways; to develop our potential as leaders; to discover meaningful career pathways; to educate and improve ourselves and help others along the way; to respect our peers, neighbors, and all life; to be part of a great movement for justice, equality, and peace. All this we will do with compassion and dignity.

This is the second year that Building Futures has had the fortune to participate in “L&C Cares.”  Last year Building Futures participated by volunteering at several different locations but only on the last day of the week. This year Building Futures has taken a more aggressive approach in our students’ volunteering efforts by volunteering at three different sites over the span of three different days. This year the sites that Building Futures conducted its volunteer activities were as follows:

  • YWCA of Alton: Expunged the attic
  • Jacoby Art Center: Painted wall, cut in stairwell, sanded and prepped twp bathrooms
  • Rock Springs: Worked at four different site areas, helped the middle school students planting, cleaning debris, mulching, and evasive plant removals
JH

Jared Hennings, coordinator of “L&C Cares” and L&C’s Student Engagement department, receives his 20 Year Service Award from Dr. Dale Chapman.

Jared Hennings, coordinator of Student Activities, Advisor of Black Student Association and Co-Advisor of Student Government Association at L&C, is the architect behind “L&C Cares.” Jared also hosts the annual “Underground Railroad” tour which highlights historical abolitionists and homes in the area that were along the route of the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves on their way to the north.

RR

Tour guide and L&C instructor J. E. Robinson, left, discusses local history with Gwen Price and Jared Hennings, Black Student Association advisor, in the basement of the Enos Apartment Building in Alton, Feb. 28 2014, during an Underground Railroad Tour offered by Lewis and Clark Community College in honor of Black History Month.

In taking the time to interview, question and understand why Jared Hennings felt the need to begin “L&C Cares” my eyes were opened to a man of great depth and caring for individuals within the Alton community regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic status. The following is a depiction of the interview I had the pleasure of conducting with Jared.

What inspired you to begin the “Lewis and Clark Cares” event?

I’ve volunteered for many years in our community and I place a lot of value in the importance of volunteering. I thought it would be fantastic for the college to commit to a week of giving back to our community and make our contribution impactful.

What is the goal of “Lewis and Clark Cares?”

The Goal of “Lewis and Clark Cares” is to have a unified effort and have students represent the college in this endeavor. Maybe from volunteering, students will realize how important volunteering is and they could be inspired to make volunteering a part of their life.

What benefits does “Lewis and Clark Cares” bring to the Alton community?

“Lewis and Clark Cares” brings a personal connection with the Alton community in realizing that the college and students are behind helping out wherever there is a need.

How has Youthbuild’s efforts contributed to “Lewis & Clark Cares?”

Youthbuild’s participation is unmatched. They already understand the value of community service before I started this effort. The students are reliable which the biggest concern to any volunteering effort. YouthBuild has strength in numbers and also construction skills to attack some of the more skilled orientated projects.

Until the next time signing off!

Pat Mays
YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King

YouthBuild Transitions from Trebuchet Participants to Contest Officials

Hello all, and welcome to another Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps blog post!

On April 1, 2016 Lewis and Clark Community College hosted its 9th Annual Trebuchet Contest. The goal of the Trebuchet Contest is to increase awareness in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields among high school students in the ST. Louis region. The contest was one of two programs at Lewis and Clark that was awarded a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation in 2012.

Trebuchet 2016

High school students participated in the 9th annual Louis and Clark Community College Trebuchet Contest. Instead of rocks, they hurled rubber balls. Teams were judged on a report, which documents their efforts and results as well as the design and history of trebuchets, CAD drawings and their performance in competition. Photo by Audrey Parsell, Lewis and Clark Community College photography intern.

In 2014, the Building Futures YouthBuild program began to compete in the Lewis and Clark 7th Annual Trebuchet Contest as participants. Building Futures does not only prepare its members to pass the GED test but to also transition into post-secondary education.  Building Futures, as a subsidiary of Lewis and Clark Community College, entered YouthBuild members into the 7th Annual Trebuchet Contest to follow the lead of Lewis and Clark as it promotes STEM fields to its students transitioning into college.

Seven

Building Futures Member explores robotics at the 7th annual Trebuchet Contest.

Fast forwarding through time, the Building Futures YouthBuild program for the 9th Annual Trebuchet Contest has transitioned from participants to contest officials. Building Futures students transitioning from participants to officials has shown the dedication of the faculty in setting the bar for our members to be leaders among their peers and set an example based on academic excellence. For the 9th Annual Trebuchet Contest, Building Futures members judged teams on the distance their trebuchet could hurl a rubber ball.

T3

Building Futures Members pose during the 2016 Trebuchet Contest with Dr. Dale Chapman, Lewis and Clark Community College President.

So what is a trebuchet and how does it work?

According to the Real World Physics Problems website, a trebuchet is a “war machine that works by using the energy of a falling (and hinged) counterweight to launch a projectile (the payload), using mechanical advantage to achieve a high launch speed.”

trebuchet
The operation of trebuchets can be explained by the law of physics.  Real World Physics Problems also stated that “it is worth noting that the physics of the trebuchet is not unique to the trebuchet. For example, in a golf swing the same basic physics applies. In fact, you can think of a trebuchet as an upside down golf swing… A trebuchet works by using the energy of a falling (and hinged) counterweight to launch a projectile (the payload), using mechanical advantage to achieve a high launch speed.”

According to HistoryNet the word trebuchet comes from the Middle French verb trebuch, meaning ‘to tumble’ or ‘to fall over,’” which is exactly what the throwing arm of a trebuchet does when it is released.

Although the trebuchet derives its name from the French, it did not originate there. According to Wikipedia.org, the first traction trebuchets were invented by the Chinese sometime before the 4th century BC. Trebuchets were first used by the Chinese in 1161 were soldiers fired bombs of lime and sulphur against ships. Very interesting!

Until the next time signing off,

Pat Mays
YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” Dr. Martin Luther King.

How does (or has) your neighborhood affected you?

Hello all!  Welcome to another riveting Building Futures blog post!

The neighborhoods in which we live or have lived are important to us. Neighborhoods can foster either positive or negative experiences that we either look at with a sense of nostalgia or a frown of disgust.   Good or bad, our neighborhoods both past and present inevitably become a part of us and are woven into the fabric of who we are to become. Our neighborhoods have a deep and lasting impression on us.

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Have you ever taken the time to sit and think “How does or has your neighborhood affected you?” This question brings us to the topic of our blog today: the Building Futures Central Avenue Beautification Project.

So why would Building Futures want to beautify Central Avenue? Well, before we answer the “Why” lets answer the first question I posed “How does or has your neighborhood affected you?”

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s A Commission to Build a Healthier America, social and economic features of neighborhoods have been linked with mortality, general health status, disability, birth outcomes, chronic conditions, health behaviors and other risk factors for chronic disease, as well as with mental health injuries, violence and other important health indicators.

Now we can answer the next question, “Why would Building Futures want to beautify Central Avenue?” Answering this question is simple. Building Futures wants to beautify Central Avenue to maximize the positive effects and minimalize the negative affects that the neighborhood can have on the residents.

Why is Building Futures concerned about any of this?

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Building Futures is concerned because of the pledge that you make when you become a member.   Every Building Futures staff member and student takes a pledge, a pledge that is recited every morning, a pledge I have had the fortune to repeat daily for four years now!  The pledge is as follows:

BUILDING FUTURES YOUTHBUILD PLEDGE
We, the members of Building Futures YouthBuild, pledge that we are working together to improve and rebuild our community, as a sustainable entity, implementing green strategies, methods, and materials; to relate to each other in cooperative ways; to develop our potential as leaders; to discover meaningful career pathways; to educate and improve ourselves and help others along the way; to respect our peers, neighbors, and all life; to be part of a great movement for justice, equality, and peace. All this we will do with compassion and dignity.

So you now understand how your neighborhood can impact residents, why Building Futures wants to beautify Central Avenue and the pledge that Building Futures has taken.

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The goal of the Central Avenue Beautification Project is to identify the repair and beautification needs with the property owners and to help them meet those needs. At this time, the projected scope of work for most properties along Central Avenue will involve landscaping, structural repair, and painting or cleaning. Our expectation is that this will be an exciting partnership with the residents along Central Avenue and of benefit for all.

We will be starting at Central Circle and ending at a vacant lot on East 4th street where we plan to build a Pocket Park. The pocket park will feature raised garden beds and sitting areas as well as a community library box. Our work will effectively result in a much needed facelift for the street and, if successful, lead to other projects of this type in the Alton area.

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We expect a large percentage of Central Avenue property owners will be willing to participate as Building Futures YouthBuild will be providing labor for the repairs free of charge. Any and all assistance is welcome.

This is a significant undertaking but one well worth the effort. In order for this project to reach its full potential, we are seeking assistance from those in the community. If you or your organization would like to participate or provide aid and or resources, please contact the following:

Sabrina Davis
Director
Building Futures YouthBuild/ AmeriCorps
sdavis@lc.edu
(618) 468-4150
5800 Godfrey Rd.
Godfrey, IL 62035

Dustin S. Massie
Adult Education Pathways Navigator
Building Futures YouthBuild/ AmeriCorps
dsmassie@lc.edu
(618) 468-4158
5800 Godfrey Rd.
Godfrey, IL 62035

Until the next time- Signing off!

Pat Mays,
YouthBuild Coordinator

Kudos to Mario Mendoza, YouthBuild’s Newest Mentor

Welcome to the Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps blog!

Building Futures has many students with remarkable stories that are truly news worthy. Every Building Futures student shares a story of adversity, perseverance, determination and courage to succeed in life.   Although every student’s story has a common thread, some individuals have very unique stories that deserve to be highlighted for the world to read.

In January 2015, Building Futures entered into a collaborative partnership with the Pere Marquette Illinois Youth Center (IYC).  The Illinois Youth Center mission is to preserve public safety by reducing recidivism. Youth incarcerated in the department’s care receive individualized services provided by qualified staff who gives them the skills to become productive citizens.  

The Building Futures/Pere Marquette collaborative experimental pilot project was designed to assist juvenile youth offenders in furthering their education, while incarcerated at the youth correctional facility.  The Building Futures/Pere Marquette partnership began with two students. I am proud to announce that today’s blog post highlights one of those students and his unique story of adversity, perseverance, determination and courage to succeed in life: Mario Mendoza!

Mario Mendoza!

Mario Mendoza

Mario grew up in a gang-infested neighborhood. Due to negative choices, he ended up at the Pere Marquette Illinois Youth Center at the age of 15. When first entering Pere Marquette, Mario continued his negative behavior until he was given a chance to obtain his GED through the Building Futures/Pere Marquette partnership.

Since entering the Building Futures program, Mario has completed his GED, received his PACT certificate and earned his AmeriCorps Education Award. He has transformed into a leader among his peers, presenting a positive behavior. Mario contributes part of his positive behavior change to his exposure to the Building Futures mentoring program.

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Mario works with other YouthBuild students.

Building Futures’ goal with mentoring is to ensure that mentored youth complete the program, enter college, receive increased credentials, provide higher levels of service and provide leadership to their communities. In return, we hope the mentored become active community members and youth mentors themselves.

In recalling one of his memories of the Building Futures mentoring program, Mario said, “My mentor said it was okay that I messed up, and I could change things around. He said it was not the end of the world. As long as I didn’t make those mistakes again, I would be alright.”

Mario is now in an intern with Building Futures. He will begin to function as a mentor to future students entering the Building Futures program. When asked what his future mentoring message to other students will be, he said, “Gang banging and going down the wrong path is not the place to go, because it’s not going to take you anywhere in life.”

What makes Mario’s story a success is that he accomplished most of his certifications while incarcerated and attending Building Futures. Subsequently, he has been released from the juvenile detention center and is currently participating in his second semester of college majoring in Automotive Technology.

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Mario works on a car at L&C.

Mario, reflecting on the time that has passed and where his life is currently and states, said, “It feels good that I am going to college, because I know I will get something out of it. Out of everyone I grew up with, there are only two of us that are going to college, and I have become someone that people from my neighborhood look up to. My family is proud of me and wants me to continue on this path. In the future, I want to complete the Automotive Technology associates degree and own my own shop. I would also like to work within construction, hopefully becoming a part of the union.”

Until the next time- Signing off!

Pat Mays,
YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King

YouthBuild Partners with Habitat for Humanity to Host Trivia Fundraiser

Hello all!  Welcome to the first 2016 Building Futures blog post! I would like to begin by thanking everyone who followed and tuned into the first ever Building Futures blog, which began in September of 2015.

As we begin a new year, Building Futures is beginning a new cohort of students and hitting the ground running. New students are being introduced to the Building Futures philosophy of service by giving back to our community, self-actualization and empowerment through leadership development, and gaining employable skills through training in facilities maintenance. Of course, let me not forget about the rigorous and high quality GED preparation coursework that our excellent instructors have developed for our students as well.

For the start of 2016, Building Futures is reconnecting with a long time partner Lewis and Clark Habitat for Humanity Alton Area Chapter.  For those of you who don’t know, Habitat for Humanity is an organization dedicated to providing affordable housing for low income families. Habitat for Humanity has been a key partner for Building Futures developing a symbiotic relationship. The symbiotic relationship that has been developed through the Habitat for Humanity and Building Futures partnership is centered on civic engagement and providing affordable housing.

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This 2015 Habitat for Humanity home was built on Wallace St. in Alton, Illinois.

Although Building Futures is not directly involved in providing affordable housing through this partnership, Building Future’s students have been able to apply their facilities maintenance skills and building training, working on Habitat for Humanity homes.

South Roxana Habitat Home

This is how a South Roxana Habitat Home looked before rehab work.

The type of work that Building Futures students conduct while working on Habitat for Humanity homes are Blueprint Reading, Carpentry Skills, Electricity Principles, Plumbing Principles, Construction Measurement, Painting /Drywall Repair, Landscaping and Weatherization.

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This is how a South Roxana Habitat Home looked before rehab work.

The work that the Habitat for Humanity and Building Futures partnership has produced changes the lives of each family that Habitat for Humanity provides affordable housing. Each new family that moves into a Habitat for Humanity home has a chance at a new beginning and is provided with a sense of ownership and self-empowerment. Ownership and self-empowerment is derived from the Habitat for Humanity strategy of “Sweat Equity.”  Habitat for Humanity does not simply give a family a home but requires that each family commit to 400 hours of labor (aka Sweat Equity) themselves in the building of the home.

Jacqueisha Howard explains what it meant to her to work with Habitat for Humanity and Building Futures:

I believe the work that Building Futures does is very beneficial to the community. First, it helps others to know that good is being done in their community not just when disaster strikes like a hurricane or something, as someone put it when I told them about Youth Build. And secondly, now we feel like we are part of the neighborhood instead of just the new house on the corner.”

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YouthBuild AmeriCorps members pose with homeowner Jaqueisha Howard after a hard day of work.

In their efforts to provide services for low income families, Habitat for Humanity conducts fundraisers to help cover the costs for providing affordable housing to Alton area residents. Habitat for Humanity in conjunction with Lewis and Clark Community College and Building Futures YouthBuild will be hosting a Trivia night at L&C March 12, 2016. The tickets are $15 each or $120 for a table. There will be basket raffles, 50/50 and other opportunities for people to win door prizes. Feel free to bring your own snacks, a cash bar will be provided.

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According to Habitat for Humanity, your donation will help families break the cycle of poverty and build long-term financial security. With an affordable, stable home, families have more to spend on food, medicine, child care, education and other essentials. Your support can help us do more in all the many ways that Habitat builds.

Please join Building Futures and Habitat for Humanity and support an Alton area family!

Until the next time – signing off,
Pat Mays
YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King