Why do I do what I do? Quite simple, because I have a passion for it and not many people can say that about their work. Being raised in a single family home, where my parent struggled to give me an education, definitely pushed me to want to reach out to youth who may be experiencing what I went through. When I first stepped into the Francisco Middle School Beacon, I did not know what to expect. I knew that there was a lot I had to learn. With time, that all changed. I started building connections with multiple youth. There is not one day where I dread going to work. I always look forward to seeing the youth and being able to put a simple smile on their face. Knowing that I have the opportunity to make an impact and change the life of a youth pushes me further to be a youth advocate.
Beacon gives me the opportunity to build long lasting and intentional relationships with youth. They do not just see you as a staff member, but as a mentor, role model, and someone they can confide in. There is one youth in particular who has made a tremendous impact on me. This student is now a 7th grader. He is a student with an intellectual disability who attends our Beacon after school program everyday. When I first met this student he was really really quiet, super shy, kept to himself, and when I would approach him to talk he would roll his eyes at me and give me the silent treatment.. Whether he acknowledged me or not, I made sure to say hi to him everyday. Our first connection and conversation was about soccer because I noticed he had a Messi jersey on. Shortly after we would have many more small conversations about soccer, food, etc.
Over the course of the year we established a great relationship. At first he never wanted to grab supper on his own, was afraid to walk into different programs, and wouldn’t not interact with other youth. With time that all changed I found ways to encourage him to get out there I made it a game. For example, I would challenge him to a race to the supper line in order “trick” him to go eat and get his food. Now a year later everyday after school he comes running from school leaving his aide in the dust looking for me with such a big smile on his face which is contagious. We always have random conversations about food, soccer, how his day went, etc. and he is night and day a different kid. Being able to see his progress from the 6th grade until now being a 7th grader, has definitely been a successful transition and reminds me everyday why I do what I do.. Now he walks into program with no hesitation, plays uno or connect four with different youth, and smiles when you say hello. He is one of the many reasons why I love doing what I do and encourages me and motivates me to build on my youth development skill while pursuing my passion for working with youth.
I want to give a big shout out to my supervisor our Interim Beacon Program Director. He has definitely taught me a lot about youth development which has helped me grow as a leader to our youth and as a whole. His work is just phenomenal! From trainings, to weekly meetings, and daily check-ins/check-outs has helped us to build and grow a very successful and impactful program. He is always available to support us in anything we need and gives a lot of feedback and insight to help with our personal growth and growth of the program. You can definitely see the passion for why he does what he does and that in turn motivates us all as a team.