Latin American Youth Center

The mission of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) is to empower a diverse population of underserved youth to achieve a successful transition to adulthood, through multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youth's social, academic, and career needs.
Jul 14, 2015

Meet Stephanie

Stephanie
Stephanie

Stephanie’s mom died when she was five years old. “I was there, she died in her sleep. I was in the room with her the whole time…that’s my last memory of her, trying to wake her up, like, ‘Mom, are you ok?’”

Stephanie’s father was incarcerated for most of her childhood. When he finally was in her life, he molested her.

Stephanie was angry for a lot of reasons—that her mother died, that her father abused her, that she had to act as a parent to her little brother. “I am my little brother’s mother, father, sister… I’m all that to him,” she shared.

A case like Stephanie’s is heartbreaking and dangerously close to tragic. She said herself, “I could be outside on the street right now… I could be dead.”

LAYC’s Street Outreach Program (SOP) meets youth like Stephanie every night. Youth who, for circumstances out of their control, are left with very few options. Youth in unstable living situations have higher instances of mental health problems, substance abuse, criminal activity/victimization, and unsafe sexual practices, as well as face barriers to education and employment (National Network for Youth, “Issue Brief: Consequences of Youth Homelessness”).

SOP staff outreach in the DC community to find homeless or unstably-housed youth and connect them with services. Youth receive case management and counseling, access to housing and education, sexual health education services, and workforce development training. Case managers work one-on-one with youth to determine their individual needs and create a plan for the future. Furthermore, LAYC staff represent permanent adult fixtures in youth’s lives – some of whom have never had such a luxury.

Stephanie, 22, is now working and safely housed, along with her little brother. She meets with Robin, an LAYC case manager, to talk about any issues in her life or to make progress towards her goals. She states, “LAYC is really helping me… I feel like here… they really do want to see you grow and prosper… Robin, I can go to her for anything.”

A donation $50 can provide emergency shelter for youth like Stephanie. Your support can mean the difference between a tragedy and a bright future. Please donate tomorrow, July 15th, starting at 9AM, to access matching funds from Global Giving and double your impact!

Thank you,

Photo of Stephanie with her brother.
Photo of Stephanie with her brother.
Stephanie meeting with LAYC case manager, Robin.
Stephanie meeting with LAYC case manager, Robin.
Jun 9, 2015

Meet Bontu

Bontu, 16, at LAYC.
Bontu, 16, at LAYC.

Dear Future Health Professional Supporter,

Meet Bontu: a driven 16-year-old with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. Bontu knows the answer to the ubiquitous question posed to many young people: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She also knows what it will take to get there.

A native of Ethiopia, Bontu immigrated to the U.S. at a young age. Not knowing the language and customs of her new home, she faced many of the same challenges young immigrants from all over the world face as they adapt to a new school and life.  

"I came to America at the age of 11 and entered sixth grade without going to grades 1-6. My family did not speak, write, or read English. Therefore, I had to do it myself for my family, my community, and my world. I started to study every day and dedicated many hours to reading as well as writing English. I got better at doing those things, but wanted to do something that would help me change how individuals from America perceive Africans or even individuals from other countries. That was the time I discovered science and the impact it had on me," said Bontu.

 

Last fall, Bontu joined LAYC's Teen Health Promoters to pursue her dream of becoming an anesthesiologist. Bontu is completing her clinical internship at The George Washington University Hospital, and the staff there have taken note of her skills. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences Chapter awarded her the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Scholarship to support her education.

On her selection, Bontu says, "Getting this scholarship is very important to me, because I am one step closer to changing how we see the world... My dream is to give equal opportunities to those who deserve it by using science. Many might think it is impossible for me to achieve my dream simply because of where I came from and what I have been through, but as we all know the only thing that matters is where we want to end up."

Not only has Bontu received a scholarship from George Washington University, but she is also one of four Teen Health Promoters who have been selected to participate in the DC Health and Academic Prep program, a four-week summer experience at GWU for rising seniors interested in a health career. Along with a $2,500 stipend, youth will work directly with physicians and other medical professionals to learn about various health career paths, participate in college preparatory activities, receive support with the college application process, and build mentoring relationships for long-term academic and professional success. When remarking on these students’ success, Andrea Thomas, M.P.H., Sexual Wellness Program Manager and staff member at LAYC stated, “When I look at the Teen Health Promotors, I see the health leaders of the next generation.”

Because of you, youth like Bontu truly are becoming the health leaders of the next generation. Thank you! Every contribution expands the opportunities that these driven youth may access, including hands-on experience, internships, and scholarships. Please consider donating monthly to sustain the Teen Health Promoters program and support youth like Bontu.

Gracias,

Bontu measures blood pressure during a THP event.
Bontu measures blood pressure during a THP event.
Heading to GWU: Claudia, Bontu, Jordy, & Leslie.
Heading to GWU: Claudia, Bontu, Jordy, & Leslie.
Apr 14, 2015

A New Beginning for Breona -- Thank You!

Breona and kids; happy in their safe home!
Breona and kids; happy in their safe home!

Spring is a time of transition and new beginnings. We here at LAYC believe that every youth in trouble deserves a second chance. The Street Outreach Program (SOP) continues to outreach to homeless and runaway youth, especially those with children, in order to give them that opportunity. One of these youth is Breona.

Breona was kicked out of her family’s home at 19 years old. In order to try to survive, she was left “couch surfing” between friends’ homes with her two young children. Night after night, she was worried about where they would live, what they would eat, and where they would go. Luckily, the LAYC Street Outreach Program found her. Staff were able to transition Breona and her kids to the Transitional Housing Program.

"SOP gave me a stable place to live so I can get on my feet for school and save up money for my children. I feel very relieved that I now have a place of my own where my children can feel comfortable and not have to stay in one room,” shares Breona.

Breona has a long list of future plans for her new beginning, including attending the LAYC Career Academy's Medical Assistance program while working in the field of childhood education. She hopes to inspire children who have experienced tough times like her. 

Over 500 youth, like Breona, find themselves homeless in the DC area on any given night. In the spirit of spring, please consider donating to give these youth a new beginning. Today only, beginning at 9AM, Microsoft YouthSpark will match any gift you give to support LAYC. Please consider donating early to access these matching funds to double your contribution!

Your support brings youth from the shadows into a brighter future.

Thank you,

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