BCS’ Youth Stand United program in Brownsville helped Giovanni pass his high school equivalency exam and move on to college. Giovanni remembers when he first walked through the doors of Youth Stand United, a BCS program that helps young people with severe emotional challenges to gain their high school equivalency degree and prepare for a career. He was “immature, lacking a real focus, and shy.” Your donations helped Giovanni become a mentor to other students. He now attends City Tech College as an Arts and Advertising Design major and earns money as a professional video gamer, even playing in international tournaments.
Giovanni, the youngest of nine siblings, is from East New York, one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. He struggled with math, and failed that section in his first attempt at the TASC (high school equivalency) exam. The staff at Youth Stand United never gave up on him. The Youth Stand United teachers build real relationships with every student and know how to motivate students to reach their full potential. With their help, Giovanni passed the next time around. In fact, math is now his favorite college subject.
As a mentor at Youth Stand United, Giovanni knows that the students often go home to a myriad of challenges. All of the students are living with mental health conditions, and most also contend with poverty, homelessness or gang violence. Giovanni says, “I understand that a lot of things could be going on at home, but I believe that if students invest in school work, it could help in changing their situation.”
BCS’ Supported Employment program provided Jeanelle with the tools she needed to land her dream job. Inspired by her mom’s Caribbean cooking, Jeanelle has always wanted to be a chef. She briefly attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales, but could not continue because of financial difficulties. At the BCS program, she received job training, interview practice and the support of a job coach; work that is made possible by our donors. Initially, Jeanelle worked in retail and in the BCS kitchen.
In 2016 Jeanelle took a leap of faith, and left her full-time retail job for a dishwashing position at Eataly. It was there that her co-workers noticed her Instagram page full of creative dishes she made and she was promoted to her first cooking position. In addition, Jeanelle started hosting her own small pop up events. Her BCS job coach remained a part of her “support system,” prepping her for interviews and encouraging her success.
In late 2016 Jeanelle had to be rushed to the hospital when her lungs collapsed and left her in a coma. Jeanelle had been born prematurely, weighing under two pounds; a tracheotomy surgery left her with life-long breathing problems. After she recuperated, she was ready for another challenge, and she was eventually hired as a full-time prep cook at Loring Place, an upscale restaurant in Manhattan, where she is currently employed.
Steven believes that his life transformed when he started working with BCS’ Community Habilitation Program. Steven is diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and when he started at our program, his goal was to become an independent adult. He wanted to handle more responsibilities, learn to cook, drive, and fix things around the house. And, he wanted to become a librarian.
One day, Jim Johnson, the program’s director, let Steven and his family know about a special program at Kingsborough Community College. Steven applied and was overjoyed to receive an acceptance letter. Today, he is attending college
classes and working at the Brighton Beach Library. Steven helps people find books, answers questions, and manages the returns. He is also an avid writer, spending his free time writing adventure stories that include his friends and family as characters.
Steven’s mom is proud of her son and happy to have BCS as a resource. She says, “I feel very happy with this program, especially with Jim. Anything I ask of him, he finds the information. He changed our lives and is a hero in our family.”