Jacob (in his own words)

My name is Jacob and I am a 2008 graduate of YouthBuild McLean County. Prior to being accepted into YouthBuild I had dropped out of school and convinced myself that having a good future wasn't for me. I spent all of my time hanging out in the streets and partying. I was given a second chance to prove to myself, my parents and my girlfriend (who was pregnant at the time) that I could be a successful person, a good son and a good father. While in YouthBuild, I earned my GED, my construction certification, and became OSHA, first aid and CPR certified. During the time I spent on the jobsite, I realized that I had a passion for construction. I am currently working on my Associate of Applied Science Degree in Construction Technologies and working in an apprenticeship. Although it was my motivation that moved me to the next level, the YouthBuild McLean County staff encouraged me and supported me throughout my transformation. I am thankful and proud to have been part of this program.

Omar

Omar started in the YCC YouthBuild program in April 2008. Omar was kicked out of high school in September 2007 because of his fighting with students and his lack of ability to get along with teachers. He was also an ex-offender, having local Latin King Gang affiliation and continuing to have gang related activities after entering the program. Omar had anger issues and caused quite a lot of dramatic circumstances in the program almost from his first day. Through counseling the case manager worked very closely with him to change his attitudes and behavior. Over time, Omar removed himself from gang-related activities, and his attendance and ability to get along with other members began to improve. He became an informal leader among his peers, encouraging them to work towards success. Having recently received his GED, Omar has applied to enter the College of Lake County in the Fall.

Michael

Michael was an older foster care child and as a result spent much of his time switching from one family to another before going to YouthBuild Rockford. Since his enrollment in the 2007/2008 program cycle, Michael has received his GED and is currently attending the Universal Technical Institute with a goal of becoming a certified automobile mechanic technician. Michael's classes are from 6:00 am to noon. He gets up extremely early to commute to class in the Chicago area and then returns to the YouthBuild Program in the afternoon to continue with program-related assignments. While the rest of the YouthBuild students have usually gone home at 3:30 when the program ends for the day, Michael is often here until 5:00 pm.

Michael just completed his mid-term examinations, received all A's, and has a GPA of 4.00. Needless to say, he is as proud of himself as the YouthBuild workers are. It has been Michael's strong desire and goal to make something of himself and to become self-sufficient. He is doing just that, in spite of obstacles and life situations that have threatened to derail his efforts. With the guidance provided by the YouthBuild program, Michael realized his potential and stayed in the program. Michael is a great example of a young man aspiring to stay motivated and dedicated even when his situation dictated otherwise.

Currently, even with all of his program and school responsibilities Michael speaks monthly at Foster Care Support Meetings sharing his story and experiences in the foster care system. He offers support to others in similar situations, while providing motivation and direction.