Youth Stories


“Now that I have graduated from the YouthBuild program, I am now I’m the HVAC program. I am going to college to do HVAC install and repair so that I can go forward and actually have a specialization in the trades.” – Andrew


youthstories-arianna“You’ll never amount to anything.” 

My name is Ariana, and that’s all I heard growing up. I came to think that about myself. Until I came to YCC, I never thought that I had value as a person.

Now at 19, I have the confidence and drive to know I can make a difference in this world if I try.

Last year, I had to fend for myself when my mother went to rehab. I slept on too many sofas to count. I tried to get to school every day but I just couldn’t manage. I was exhausted from just living each day. I dropped out of school and got into trouble.

I wish I knew then what I know now. My parole officer told me about YCC. I figured why not? And then YCC totally changed my life. I no longer have an attitude. I feel like my life matters. Now I’m looking forward to getting my GED and with the help of YCC, attending the College of Lake County. I plan to be a nurse.

Now I want to work hard to achieve my goals – goals that I identified with the support of YCC. Thank you YCC for being the first people to believe in me.


youthstory-michaelRandom gunfire, incarcerated dad, dead-end lives – I was surrounded by this growing up. I fell in with the wrong crowd. Selling and then becoming addicted to drugs, I never thought about tomorrow. I was headed down the wrong path when I heard about YCC.

I didn’t have parents who could open my eyes to a real future. I needed someone to show me how to make a new life for myself. After finishing YCC’s “Mental Fitness” challenge, I knew I’d found that guidance. It took hard work and more than a little prodding from the YCC staff to change my bad attitude. I thought that I didn’t need to care about my life and what I did with it – but I care now.

I’m 19 and finishing up the 10-month program. I’m proud that I earned 2 certifications in construction and plan to get a job renovating houses. I appreciate my new job skills and the life skills that I learned at YCC. Not every day is going to be easy. My old gang is still there to tempt me, and I may not feel like working. But I am committed to having a better life. I’m happy to say that you won’t be seeing me in the headlines. Thank you for helping YCC to create new possibilities for me.


youthstory-daniellaI first want to thank YCC for making me a different person. When you accepted me into the YCC program, you also welcomed me into a new family. I’ve never really had a family to call my own. My father was killed when I was 4, and my mother has battled the demons of heroin all my life. The last time I saw her, she was so abusive that I had to cut off contact with her. I grew up mostly with my grandma, who did her best while caring for 4 other grandchildren.

I have a 3-year-old daughter, Alaia. Even though I’m only 20, in some ways, I feel so much older. But, when it comes to my future, I felt very lost. I dropped out of school when I had my baby, and I floated through part-time jobs trying to care for Alaia. But I want better for her.

My friend told me about YCC and the difference they made in her life. I’ve been here 8 months now and will finish the program shortly. This is the first time I’ve had people who look out for me and my future, giving me support and advice that I so badly needed but didn’t have when I was younger. I found childcare so I can study for my GED. I’ve also completed 3 certifications in hospitality. I’m hoping to get a job in a hotel or restaurant.

More importantly, I’ve changed my mindset. The life skills courses have shown me that I can be self-reliant. That even though I may not feel like getting up in the morning, I can and will. I am determined to make a good life for Alaia and YCC is showing me the way.

Thank you YCC for believing in me!

You can make a difference for young people in Youth Conservation Corps’ programs. Donate now to have a lasting impact for youth in need.