Last week, two of our YouthBuild Corpsmembers joined 120 other YouthBuilders from around the nation for the three-day, Conference of Young Leaders (COYL) in Washington D.C. This summit was an opportunity to build professional development, meet with political leaders and learn about how YouthBuild programs work around the country.
“I never knew how big of a thing YouthBuild is. You meet all these people from all over the country who are going through the same things you are,” said Adrien Chavez, one of the Corpsmembers who attended. “I bonded with a lot of people really quickly.”
Both Corpsmembers expressed that this experience was like none they had encountered before. For Andre Baggett, this was his first time out of the state and on an airplane. “The trip just can’t be explained with words,” he expressed. “You have to experience it for yourself.”
During the three days, the two delegates attended a number of leadership development workshops and met with Colorado senators, Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet. They explained to them why YouthBuild deserves their support. “They were getting pushed to other meetings, but stayed back to hear why this program matters and how it has impacted us. I think it really made a difference to talk to them,” said Adrien.
Accompanying the two delegates were two YouthBuild alumni and current staff members, Kenny Luckes (class of 2011) and Xavier Jennings (class of 2008). “I went to COYL once as a Corpsmember and twice as a staff member,” said Kenny. “It’s enriching getting to go as staff and see the transformation that takes place for attendees. People who were scared to talk on that first day confidently get up in front of a microphone towards the end. They share what inspired them about this experience even though they’re scared.”
The conference is also an opportunity to share what they learned with their peers. The two delegates have been excited to share with other Corpsmembers at MHYC what they did during the week. However, they both expressed that there is no way to fully describe the impact the week truly had on them.
YouthBuild USA is a national 501(c)3 with over 250 sites in 46 states. It works to unleash the intelligence and positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives. Members work towards their GED or high school diploma, while earning an AmeriCorps education award for their work in the community. Learn more here.