Yesterday we celebrated the launch of the Building Our Future Together partnership’s second renovation in Philadelphia with a groundbreaking ceremony, block party, and volunteer event!
The next Building Our Future Together project in Philadelphia is on Wingohocking Street in the Nicetown section of North Philly, only blocks from the LEED Platinum house on Greene St. that was completed in August. The abandoned property consists of two conjoined rowhomes and is tucked behind the major Nicetown Court development, currently in construction, on Germantown Avenue. Click here for more photos and information about other redevelopment efforts in Nicetown.
YouthBuild Philly students and staff joined representatives from YouthBuild USA, Nicetown CDC, Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed, and the City of Philadelphia to celebrate the kickoff of this new green-building effort. After remarks by YouthBuild founder and CEO Dorothy Stoneman, Saint-Gobain President and CEO John Crowe and Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger, everyone participated in a pep rally to celebrate the “Green Team” of YouthBuild students whose vocational training has emphasized sustainable building practices.
Green Team member and Class of 2013 student Aaron Bailey took the stage to reflect on the personal significance of green renovation, and to thank project sponsors:
Good morning everyone,
On behalf of YouthBuild’s Class of 2013 and the Green Build team, I want to thank everyone for being here to show their support. I also want to thank the project sponsors, YouthBuild USA, Saint Gobain and CertainTeed, for teaming up with YouthBuild Philly again on a second renovation project.
What I like most about being at YouthBuild is feeling like I am a part of something important. Everyone wants to feel connected to other people and to do something meaningful. Being on the Green Team, and building a house for someone, is a perfect example of how YouthBuild helps me feel like I am part of a community and that I can make a difference.
Building homes has also taught me about excellence, which is one of YouthBuild’s core values. When you are building a home where someone’s going to be living, you want everything to be on point.
Additionally, Saint-Gobain and YouthBuild USA help us build excellent homes. On the Green Team, I’ve learned about how technology and green-building can help homeowners save money and reduce their environmental impact. A green home benefits the homeowner, and the whole world.
Knowing that my classmates and I have the skills to take a house that looks like this and turn it into a real home for a family who needs it, makes me feel good about myself. It makes me feel good about my work and about what I can accomplish. It’s made me realize that I’m capable of things I never knew I could do. This year, I am starting to understand what people mean when they talk about my potential. I am starting to get a picture in my head of everything that I can be.
What’s great about being on the Green Team is that we not only have personal support from YouthBuild, but we also have that support from Saint-Gobain. Earlier this year Saint-Gobain invited the Green Team to visit their offices in Valley Forge, and their employees shared career and life advice with us. I want to thank them again for that. I was inspired by their stories, and felt excited for my future after that conversation.
This summer, I will be starting a welding apprenticeship and graduating from YouthBuild Philadelphia. My plan is to keep working in the building trades, and to continue my education so that I can build on my success this year.
Thank you to everyone who has made this possible, and thank you all for being here today to celebrate with us.
Then Aaron led students in the YouthBuild Student Pledge:
After the remarks and pep rally came the moment we had all been waiting for – the ground-breaking! Green Team students Imir Felton and Yolandias Moody handily swung their sledgehammers against the door of the property to signify the official start of the renovation effort.
Before the work began, however, everyone took a lunch break and danced to the live DJ’s music.
In the afternoon, volunteers from YouthBuild USA, Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed, and the YouthBuild Philly Board of Trustees joined building trade students in working on the houses. The first step was clearing the homes of debris (of which there was plenty) to create a workspace suitable for the gutting and rebuilding efforts to come.
It’s a dusty job, but somebody’s got to do it – and our volunteers are awesome for being so excited to be that someone!
We’d like to give a big YouthBuild Philly shout-out to everyone making this project possible, and those who came out yesterday to celebrate our students and the start of this house’s journey. Stay tuned for updates on this project!
More photos from yesterday:
Earlier this year, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced to his colleagues at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that April 9, 2013 would mark the first-ever Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service in cities across the country. This celebration – led by Mayor Nutter as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – was envisioned as a way for mayors to highlight the impact of national service being done by citizens, AmeriCorps members, and SeniorCorps members in their community. (Click here to watch Mayor Nutter discuss the Day of Recognition on MSNBC’s Morning Joe - jump to 00:59 for the interview).
YouthBuild Philly provided the location for the Mayor’s celebration in Philadelphia, organized by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. The highlight of the ceremony featured the announcement of Mayor’s Awards for Distinguished Service, recognizing AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members and alumni in Philadelphia for their commitment to serving their community.
We were excited to nominate YouthBuild student and AmeriCorps member Dominique Brown. Community Projects Coordinator (and full-time AmeriCorps member) Zuri Stone wrote Dominique’s nomination letter, noting that
Dominique’s long term goal is to go to college and become a social worker. Her life experiences and service involvement have transformed her into a caring person, with a passion now to make sure no child goes through what she has gone through and that no struggling individual is left to fend for themselves…
…The thing about Dominique that further distinguishes her from others that are doing service often is her inquisitiveness. There is a curiosity in her mind to not only help others, but to understand the deeper meaning behind the issues themselves. She never accepts her service as a shallow one-time event, rather she inquires on the history of those she works with as well as the root of the issues they are facing. After attending the AIDS Walk with YouthBuild, she later suggested that we support more walks and eventually she help us coordinate our participation in the Alzheimer’s Walk.
There is no doubt in my mind that Dominique is the most deserving candidate for this award. She is taking her life experiences and transforming them into a positive movement to help her community. It has been an honor to know Dominique as a student and I cannot wait to see her growth into a college campus activist and furthermore into a personal activist for each and every one of her clients as a social worker.
Dominique was selected as an outstanding nominee by the award committee, and had the opportunity to meet high-profile champions of national service - U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer (who, in her remarks, called Philadelphia the “City of National Service Love.” We hope the nickname sticks!), Deputy Mayor and Managing Director Richard Negrin, and, of course, Mayor Nutter.
We’d like to congratulate Dominique on her well-deserved award, as well as the other winners and outstanding nominees. We thank Mayor Nutter for his commitment to service and leadership in instituting the Mayors Day of Recognition, and thank the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service for organizing this event! Service is at the core of YouthBuild’s program and values, and we were honored to help host a ceremony recognizing service and its best exemplars at our school!
We have a handful of exciting news items from YouthBuild Philly alums that we’re excited to share! Click here to read previous alumni updates, and stay tuned for future blog posts about our graduates’ lives after YouthBuild.
- YouthBuild USA’s Helene D. Stoneman Scholarship and Civic Leadership Program grants $2,000 to outstanding YouthBuild graduates to assist with their college education. Selected graduates demonstrate excellence in civic engagement, community leadership, and academic achievement. We are excited congratulate the following YouthBuild Philly alumni who were recently awarded 2012 Helene D. Stoneman Scholarships: Amika Miller ‘11, Domonique Williams ‘08, Jasmine Myers ‘11, Keenan Thompson ‘09, Naja Bland ‘11, Shanna Fields ‘11, Tyrik Gass ‘10, and Zurrell Toney ‘09.
- Kahlil Jones ‘12 has recently enrolled in Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s new job training initiative, Philly Future Track. The program is designed for young people to gain practical work experience and life skills. Kahlil told us he is proud to work for a city program, and excited to learn new skills that will help him advance his career.
- In addition to being the Vice President of YouthBuild’s National Young Leaders Council and a Stoneman Scholar, Naja Bland ‘11 can now list “nationally-read blogger” on her resume. Naja’s personal essay “Making Choices” was published on The Huffington Post on February 25 and chronicles the positive decisions that have led to her success as a student and a young leader, as well as her plans for a career in healthcare. Way to go, Naja!
From all of us at YouthBuild, Happy AmeriCorps Week! AmeriCorps is a key YouthBuild partner, and helps us revitalize communities while transforming young people’s lives and expanding their worldview through service. We are proud to be part of a national service movement that has accomplished so much in communities across America:
- 800,000: Number of individuals who have served as AmeriCorps members since 1994.
- 1 Billion: Total number of hours served by AmeriCorps members.
- 5.2 Billion: Number of disadvantaged youth tutored, mentored, or served by AmeriCorps members.
- $2.4 Billion: Total amount of Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards earned by AmeriCorps members.
- 4 Million: Number of community volunteers managed or mobilized by AmeriCorps members in 2012.
- 15,000: Number of nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations that AmeriCorps members serve with.
- $480 Million: Value of non-CNCS cash and in-kind donations leveraged by AmeriCorps programs in 2010.
To celebrate AmeriCorps week here in Philly, we participated in – what else? – a citywide service event on Monday. Students joined Red Cross staff down at City Hall to put together fire safety kits:
Of course, every week is AmeriCorps Week here at YouthBuild. For example, last weekend students volunteered with Lutheran Services Refugee Program and got a house all ready for an incoming refugee family to move in. We’re so proud of students who did this grueling work – lots of carrying and rearranging furniture – AFTER catching up on their schoolwork at Saturday school. Talk about getting things done!
AmeriCorps is near and dear to our hearts – many of our staff are former AmeriCorps members, our students are part-time AmeriCorps members, and this year we have 10 AmeriCorps members as well as 3 AmeriCorps VISTA members providing vital coordination and capacity-building services across our program. We are so proud to wear the A on our sleeves, and hope that everyone had a great AmeriCorps Week 2013!
Dear Friends of YouthBuild,
I didn’t let my fear of flying stop me from signing up for YouthBuild Philly’s upcoming Spring Break Service Trip to Utuado, Puerto Rico. My interest in trying new things is stronger than any of my fears, and I know that this trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My classmates and I need your sponsorship to make this trip possible.
This trip will be the first time that I’ve ever flown on a plane, which is also true for many of my classmates. Most of us have barely – if at all – traveled outside of Philadelphia. We are so excited by this opportunity to explore a different environment, culture, and language. Will you help us get there?
While we’re in Utuado, our group of 20 students will volunteer at local schools, community centers, and agricultural sites nearby. This will be a great way to experience Puerto Rico’s culture and language first-hand. Service is important to me. It’s changed my perspective on myself and the world around me, and made me realize that everyone can help each other. I’m glad we’re doing different types of service, because I like trying new activities. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it helps people. I like seeing people smile.
I’m excited to travel to Puerto Rico to meet new people with different backgrounds, help out in the community, and explore my horizons. There’s so much to see.
When we get on that plane, I hope I get a window seat.
Thanks for your support,
YouthBuild Philly Class of 2013
About the Service Learning Trip
The spring break service trip is part of YouthBuild Philly’s legacy of revitalizing communities while transforming young people’s lives and expanding their worldview through service.
Your contribution will go towards transportation, meals, and lodging for students.
Since enrolling at YouthBuild Philly, graduate Naja Bland ’11 has racked up a number of milestones and personal accomplishments as a student and a young leader. She graduated from YouthBuild with high honors and is now a college student preparing to enroll in a registered nursing program. Additionally, she participates in national policy-making and planning as the Vice President of YouthBuild USA’s National Young Leaders Council.
This week, she can add “nationally-read blogger” to her resume. Yesterday, The Huffington Post published a post written by Naja entitled “Making Choices,” which chronicles the past several years of her life – from her decision to reclaim her education to her current leadership positions and plans for the future:
In my search to complete my education, I found YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. YouthBuild helped instill in me the importance of being a leader, taking responsibility for my actions, staying drug free, and setting goals for myself that I was determined to achieve. With help from my Dean and other students, I ran community meetings of my entire class. I engaged in community service at hospitals, nursing homes, and other schools. I enjoyed giving back to my community with a team of young leaders like me, who were trying to accomplish the one thing most people yearn for–positive success.
I graduated from YouthBuild Philadelphia with my high school diploma, high honors, and many awards. In return for my YouthBuild community service, I earned an AmeriCorps education award that helped me pay for college. I earned my certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant and now work full-time. I love the work I do, helping elderly people who are no longer in their homes and placed in an unfamiliar facility. It is my honor to care for them. Caring for another human being is not a job, it’s one of the greatest acts we can do for someone else. I will continue to pursue my education and keep my patients’ health and dignity as my utmost concern.
Naja’s post is her contribution to YouthBuild USA’s #JobRaising campaign, a crowd-funding project sponsored by The Huffington Post and the Skoll Foundation to promote organizations helping Americans get “back to work.” YouthBuild USA has spent the past several weeks blogging about YouthBuild’s unique career development programming and soliciting donations in support of their campaign. Click here to learn more and help YouthBuild USA connect youth to jobs.
Cross-posted from the Building Our Future Together blog, a partnership between YouthBuild USA and Saint-Gobain.
Last week, students in the Green Building track of YouthBuild Philly’s Building Trades program visited Saint-Gobain’s North America HQ, which are just outside of Philadelphia in Valley Forge, PA. The “Green Team” suited up in professional wear for the occasion. Students were excited to learn more about green-building science, meet the people behind Saint-Gobain products, and learn about careers in the industry.
When we arrived, External Communications Manager Dina Pokedoff gave us a tour of the building as well as an overview of Saint-Gobain’s history, products, and contributions to modern science. We were surprised to learn that Saint-Gobain was founded in 1665 to create glass for the Palace of Versailles in France, and that the Saint-Gobain family of products and materials are everywhere, from beer bottles to space stations and from the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium to Philadelphia’s own Kimmel Center.
Following the tour, students met with Saint-Gobain employees representing many departments within the company – including Legal, Finance, and Human Resources. During an informal conversation over lunch, students and employees talked about strategies for career success and ways to persevere in one’s education. Here is just a sampling of the advice the Saint-Gobain employees offered:
- Ask questions.
- Ask for help.
- Take on new challenges, and believe that you’ll rise to the occasion.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to learn.
It was inspiring to hear each employee’s story about how they arrived in their current position and what they’ve learned along the way. YouthBuild students came away excited to learn more about new career paths and to pursue their futures with Saint-Gobain employees’ advice in mind.
The trip gave us an opportunity to see Saint-Gobain from a new perspective. Having visited the Greene St. house completed last year, students knew about Saint-Gobain’s sustainable and energy-efficient building products – but over the course of the visit we learned that there’s much more to the company than green-building materials. We want to thank Saint-Gobain for welcoming us into their office, exposing us to exciting ideas in materials and building science, and taking the time to share their personal experiences and career advice with YouthBuild students! It was an unforgettable trip.