Apr 13, 2020

Thanks to you, our youth remain connected & supported

LAYC’s team in Prince George’s County has worked diligently to adapt programs during the COVID-19 crisis, knowing how critical it is to keep our youth and families connected. Your support makes this work possible!

Coming together for our community matters now more than ever, and our staff and partners are making every effort to be present and bring consistency to the lives of all of our youth and families, no matter how COVID-19 needs and responses  evolve.

It is critical that we make every effort to keep our students engaged while schools implement distance learning, particularly by supporting those who lack access to computers and the internet. Our recent efforts in Prince George’s County include resource distribution a variety of academic and after-school enrichment supports:

Resource connection and distribution
Staff have been hard at work while practicing social distancing distributing resources to over 750 students and families. Resources include grocery and diaper packages, gift cards, resource kits, laptops, and internet access. In addition, English classes offered to parents and families online are fostering parent engagement and a sense of community. Parents are excited and engaged to continue to learn, connect, and support one another!

Virtual academic and workforce programming
Our staff are keeping middle and high school students connected and engaged in learning with a positive youth development approach to virtual programming. Students can access academic enrichment, life skills development, creative enrichment, college and career activities, and even virtual field trips that allow them to “travel the world.” GED and job readiness instructors are keeping young people focused on the path to success through virtual sessions and are even hosting a virtual Spring Break camp for high school seniors!

Case management and mental health support
Our staff are providing virtual case management, counseling, and other support services to all of our youth and families. As many are experiencing increased anxiety, family stressors, and emotional turmoil during this crisis, we have shifted resources to hire a new mental health counselor to specifically support community members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we don’t know what lies ahead of us as a result of COVID-19, we do know that your support makes it possible to stand alongside our students, families, and community every step of this journey. 

My sincerest thanks and wishes for good health,


Lupi Quinteros-Grady
President &CEO

Links:

Mar 9, 2020

A Day of Service and Reflection at the Drop-In Center

Volunteers organize Hope's Closet
Volunteers organize Hope's Closet

Dear Friend,

Each January, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,'s legacy through the MLK Day of Service. This year's celebration, on January 20th, included events across four LAYC sites in DC and Maryland.

At LAYC’s Drop-In Center, where runaway, homeless, and unstably housed youth receive basic services, activities focused on empowering and encouraging youth to reflect on their experiences with the program and give back to their community. Organizers led a roundtable discussion on current politics and how it connects to youths’ lives.

One community partner, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), returned this year with more than 20 volunteers who donated items from the Drop-In Centers’ Amazon wish list, helped organize a clean and organize the center, and provided a resume building service for program participants.

Community partners like HRC return each year to support our housing programs because they understand the life-changing and life-saving impact of stable housing, access to resources, and connections to caring adults in the lives of young people.

This impact is best demonstrated by the words of one of LAYC’s Transitional Living Program participants:

“I entered the program five months ago, five months in which I have achieved many things, and I have met brilliant people. With the guidance of my case manager, I learned to organize my time and set goals. In this period, the program has helped me to meet many of my personal goals, such as learning another language, taking art classes, and opening to new experiences; I applied to different scholarships, and I was accepted. Now I am a freshman at Montgomery College. I know I can grow and expand my horizons, and with the help of LAYC, I don't have to worry about a place to sleep, live, or food to eat. LAYC is not only an organization that helps young people like me but, nevertheless, [staff have] become like my family, and I know that if I need something I can always count on them.”

Thank you for your continued support of our work providing life-saving services and connections that keep homeless and runaway youth safe and on a path to self-sufficiency.

With gratitude,
Lupi Quinteros-Grady

 

Volunteers provide resume building support
Volunteers provide resume building support
Dec 2, 2019

Give the gifts of hope, dignity, and joy to a youth

Keshawn's GED graduation
Keshawn's GED graduation

This holiday season, the LAYC family is reflecting on the inspiring stories of young people who have drawn upon their own resiliency and inner strength to achieve academic and personal milestones so significant they are altering the course for the generation that follows them. Among other obstacles, many of these youth have faced homelessness and at some point in their journey. 

With your support, our young people have found belonging, dignity, and hope, which have unlocked talents and strengths that enabled them to persevere toward their goals. Keshawn is one of those youth.

When Keshawn first came to LAYC, she had assumed her background and circumstances meant she was destined for an unfortunate future. However, she was determined to fight for a happy life for herself and her newborn son. Keshawn recalls, “I didn't want to be just another statistic…a young mother who is black who dropped out, who had a kid and doesn't know anything.”

While caring for a new baby, Keshawn studied for her GED at LAYC. Even when classes were not in session, she committed to studying on her own. However, accumulating family expenses and housing needs made it hard to stay focused and see her studies through to the end.

Despite feeling depressed and wanting to give up at times, Keshawn managed to stay motivated because of her love for her son and the support of LAYC staff that checked in daily, treating her with dignity and respect and offering constant compassion and encouragement.

“So many young people are going through so many problems. We really need to have support, like someone checking in…making sure you’re ok.”

In addition, support from individuals like you helped us provide wraparound supports to Keshawn, including a program stipend, diaper donations, meals, employment connections, and family-friendly housing. This gave her the room to breathe and continue with her studies while feeling confident that she was a good mother to her son.

“[LAYC staff] helped me to see my worth…we all make mistakes. As long as you show up and keep going, and want the best for yourself, you can do it.”

Keshawn has now passed all sections of her GED and is completing professional certifications at LAYC. She feels extremely proud knowing that she persisted, and has set a course for a better future for her son. Joining many past LAYC participants, Keshawn was so touched by her experience with genuine and caring case managers that she wants to become a social worker. “I want to help people feel the way LAYC staff made me feel.” 

Unfortunately, not all young people like Keshawn feel seen, respected, or empowered to seek the resources and supports that can unlock their full potential. Through your contribution, LAYC staff can continue to provide opportunities for youth to fulfill their hopes and dreams.

On behalf of the entire LAYC family, thank you for giving the gifts of joy, dignity and hope to our youth!

 
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