This September, LAYC said hasta pronto, but not goodbye, to Daniel Salgado, a seven-year member of the Promotor Pathway® family. The Pathway provides intensive 24/7 case management to youth up to the age of 24, for a period of 4-6 years, on average. When Daniel turned 24 this fall, we reflected on his inspiring development into a confident and capable adult and father over the many years he has been involved with the Pathway and other LAYC programs.
LAYC staff first met Daniel in 2009. He was 16 years old, was experiencing various problems at home, had dropped out of school, and was about to become a father, which terrified him. When he decided to study for his GED at LAYC’s Silver Spring site, Daniel faced many challenges and was feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. This all changed when Daniel met various LAYC staff while taking GED classes. Their accessibility and demonstration of genuine care and commitment to his well-being made an instant impression. He remembers how, because he was willing to open up to LAYC staff early on, he immediately began to receive valuable insights and life lessons.
Today, Daniel is the only sibling in his family who has yet earned a high school diploma. His proudest moment thus far was when he put on a Bard College shirt and was able to say that he attended college courses.
The relationships established while Daniel was a GED participant were central to his enrollment in LAYC’s Promotor Pathway. Daniel recalled: “Before I came to LAYC, I had been connected to various programs and resources but had never experienced the level of concern and commitment from the people helping me that I felt with LAYC staff. It felt good to be recognized.” While he studied for his GED, Daniel had many informal yet impactful conversations with Jorge Orozco, one of LAYC’s Promotores, and the two formed a meaningful relationship. When Daniel was eventually matched with a Promotor, Jorge was an obvious choice. They have now been working together for seven years.
LAYC’s GED program and Promotor Pathway opened the door for Daniel to an array of services and ongoing support from caring staff at LAYC. In addition to studying for and passing the GED exam, he served for a year in LAYC’s AmeriCorps in DC; participated in LAYC’s Montgomery County Conservation Corps (MCCC) workforce training program, where he was promoted to crew leader; served as a mentor for LAYC’s Full Circle Brotherhood program; and earned college credits in LAYC’s Bard College course. All of these services and LAYC staff support created a safety net that allowed Daniel to grow as an individual and gain the skills necessary to eventually gain employment. Numerous staff have complimented Daniel on his commitment to the Pathway, his wonderful personality and humor, and his knack for mentoring youth. His Promotor, Jorge, had this to say about him:
“It has been an honor to work with Daniel. I met him as a 16-year-old who was very uncertain about his future, and now he is a mature, responsible, loving father and great human being. Though there were bumps in the road, Daniel never gave up and always kept a positive mindset. I will miss working with him, but it brings me joy knowing that he does not need me anymore. Ultimately, that is the goal of the Pathway.”
With Jorge’s support, and by participating in other programs, Daniel was able to develop confidence, professionalism, and communication skills that have helped immensely in his personal and professional life. When he was asked what stands out most about his LAYC experience, Daniel said, “The fact that I am a better person now. It was not one specific instance where I felt I received a benefit, but the whole experience. Before coming to LAYC, I was immature, scared, full of anger, and didn’t know how to be in my son’s life. While at LAYC, I matured and feel much more able to handle my responsibilities, especially being a good father to my son.” When reflecting on his hopes for the future, Daniel observed, “I want to be to my son what Jorge was for me. Jorge has been by my side through all my struggles and achievements.”
Daniel has also emerged as a gifted advocate for LAYC youth. He has spoken about his own youth experience and personal growth at a number of events, including the release of the Promotor Pathway study results in 2016, board dinners, and more. He has even been featured on Fox5 News!
Over the past eight and a half years, Daniel has become a part of the LAYC family and has given a great deal of himself to LAYC and to youth in need. Today, he is working at a large warehouse facility where he has been granted supervisory duties, and he is known as an employee who is extremely professional and respectful of others. His personal dream is to eventually pursue a career in youth development or, more specifically, become an LAYC Promotor. Even though he feels ready to take his next steps without a formal Promotor connection, Daniel knows the end of his Pathway experience does not mean a final goodbye to LAYC. The meaningful contribution he finds working in youth development at the organization always seems to bring him back.
Hear Daniel tell his story here.