Just two years ago, Jesse and his mom Melody were living in the Carying Place – a program for homeless, working families with children.
“Jesse’s self-esteem was low. I was afraid it was affecting his character and confidence,” says Melody.
Today, 39% of teens report feeling lonely and isolated. The director of the Carying Place wanted to change those odds. She suggested that the family get involved in the YMCA of the Triangle. She encouraged Jesse to participate in the YMCA of the Triangle’s Lightner Y Achievers program. Y Achievers provides middle and high school students of color with opportunities to learn the importance of civic participation, college readiness and community service.
“Y Achievers helped bring me out of my slump,” says Jesse. “It motivated me to be a better person.”
Today, Jesse is participating in his third year of Achievers and serves as a member of the program’s Teen Advisory Council. He’s also an active participant in the North Carolina YMCA Youth & Government. He has made lifelong friends and developed strong relationships with adult mentors.
“Not everybody grows up in the same circumstances,” says Jesse. “The Y is one big family.”
He continues to grow his leadership skills in the program and would like to attend college to be a film director.
“It’s important for people to give to the YMCA to provide opportunity for people like my family. Everything that I knew and wanted for my son, the Y has helped me to achieve that, says Melody. “Being a single parent, it is not easy to reach your child on every level. I sleep better at night knowing that the Y is teaching him how to make a difference in the world. That’s every mother’s dream for their child.”
$1,134 provides one teen with the opportunity to participate one year of the leadership program.