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