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Montgomery County Summer Youth Connect Networking Breakfast A Success! PDF Print
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 17:28

"Don't be afraid go out on a limb, that's generally where the fruit is," said Gabriel Albornoz, Director of the Montgomery County Recreation Department and former LAYC director of advocacy to a room of 120 youth and 38 employers attending the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers' (MMYC) Summer Youth Connect Networking Breakfast, a networking opportunity for youth and employers participating in the Summer Youth Connect Internship program. The breakfast, which took place July 29 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, was another successful event hosted by MMYC for the dozens of youth who seek meaningful work experiences and the employer partners who mentor and employ the youth for six weeks during the summer.

As keynote speaker Gabriel Albornoz, declared, "I see a room full of potential." County Executive Ike Leggett appointed Albornoz to serve in January 2007. At age 30, he became the youngest cabinet level appointment in the history of Montgomery County. As Director of the Department, he is responsible for overseeing 39 Recreation facilities including community recreation centers, administrative offices, aquatic centers, and senior centers, over 3,000 employees, and manages the Department's $33 million budget. 

MMYC's Summer Youth Connect Internship program provides eligible Montgomery County youth ages 16-24 with the opportunity to gain valuable and paid work experience. Public, private, and non-profit businesses, government, and community-based organizations provide safe and meaningful workplace experiences in high-growth industries. The program works closely with youth to help them succeed in the workplace, advance their education, and become strong leaders and engaged citizens. Youth gain financial management skills and hands-on work experience, and connect with positive adult role models. In addition, they improve their interpersonal and communication skills and build connections for future work opportunities. In turn, businesses and agencies make a positive contribution to youth in the community.

"The Summer Youth Connect Internship program provides youth ages 16-24 with great work opportunities that allow them to gain skills. Over the past 10 years, my favorite part has been seeing the growth in our youth's confidence," said Lupi Quinteros-Grady, Acting Managing Director of LAYC's Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers. "For many of the youth, this becomes their first work experience, and they begin to understand how to navigate the world of work. Equally important, they learn about what employers are looking for in an employee."

Participating businesses and agencies included: Lead4Life, Inc; Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County; National Park Service's President's Park; United States Department of Agriculture; Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce; Montgomery County Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; Silver Spring Regional Center; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's AimHi Program.

"I have been a placement partner for MMYC's Summer Youth Connect Internship program for the past 10 years, and this program has been excellent for businesses and for the community. Over the last decade I have worked with at least 10 interns, several of which have gone on to get their insurance licenses and have been hired by me or other State Farm agents," said Ray Mensah, State Farm Insurance Agent.

The Summer Youth Connect Internship program is possible thanks to WorkSource Montgomery; Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services; Montgomery County Council; and the Community Foundation in Montgomery County.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2016 09:14
Five LAYC Youth Make it to the DC United's Special Olympics DC Unified Soccer Team PDF Print
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 16:35
LAYC participant Kristhian Espinal, center, at the DC United Special Olympics team signing event. Photo courtesy of DC United.

LAYC participant Kristhian Espinal, center, at the DC United Special Olympics team signing event. Photo courtesy of DC United.

LAYC is excited to announce that five of our youth (Denis Valenzuela, Rene Gonzalez, Ivan Hernandez, Kristhian Espinal, and LAYC AmeriCorps member Dennis Mendizabal) made onto the D.C. United's Special Olympics D.C. Unified Soccer Team. The D.C. team is one of many around the country thanks to a partnership between Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Special Olympics that helps leverage "the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports."

Tryouts for the team were held at RFK Stadium on June 23, followed by practices, games and social events. The 15 players chosen to participate in the program signed contracts and received a full D.C. United kit, including a personalized uniform, and an all-expenses-paid trip to United's away match in Ohio. Watch ABC7 coverage of the announcement.

The D.C. Unified team had its first match-up was against the Columbus Crew Special Olympics Ohio at MAPFRE stadium in Columbus on July 16 where they scored a 5-1 victory. See video below, shared with permission from D.C. United.

The next match-up is Sunday, August 21 at RFK Stadium where they will face the New York Red Bulls Special Olympics New Jersey Unified team. The match will take place after D.C. United's match with the New York Bulls. 

"The Unified Soccer program is an incredible opportunity for local athletes and Unified Partners to travel and meet competitors from other states while witnessing firsthand what it feels like to be part of D.C. United's team," said D.C. United Director of Community Relations Victor Melara. "D.C. United was excited to open this opportunity to LAYC youth with hopes of providing them with a once in a lifetime opportunity that they'll never forget," he added.

We're so thankful to D.C. United for our continued partnership to involve Latino, African-American, immigrant, and other underserved youth in MLS sports.

Join us on August 21 to cheer on Denis, Rene, Ivan, Kristhian, Dennis, and the rest of the D.C. United's Special Olympics DC team. Discounted tickets are now available and can be purchased via this link: https://groupmatics.events/#/event/specialolympicsdcu.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2016 08:19
Partner Spotlight: DC Diaper Bank PDF Print
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 17:14

Since February of 2014, LAYC has received thousands of free diapers for parenting families thanks to our partner the DC Diaper Bank. The DC Diaper Bank provides diapers, and formula, hygiene items, and clothing through its Baby Pantry program to social service organizations that are already helping families in need through comprehensive programs and services. Each month, we load up a truck, van, multiple cars, or most recently an RV with 10,000 diapers!

The DC Diaper Bank was founded in 2010 by Corinne Cannon after and husband Jay became parents and she realized how difficult it was to be a parent. She thought about less fortunate parents and wondered how they managed with the stress, let alone the basic needs of a baby. She did a little research and founds out diapers—an expensive must-have—weren't covered by the usual safety net programs like food stamps or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides food and formula to qualifying families. Corinne also learned that and social-service organizations in the Washington DC metro area, like LAYC, were in dire need of diapers for the families they served.

"We started this work to ensure all our families have what they need to thrive, and our partnership with LAYC is a great example of how we're working with other nonprofits to make that goal a reality. Our intention was never to just provide diapers, we want a family who needs diapers to connect with a social service agency who can provide other supports," said DC Diaper Bank founder Corinne Cannon. "We've found that diapers act as a 'gateway resource'—moms who won't reach out for food or other help will reach out for diapers and, in doing so, become connected to a range of other services. We love supporting LAYC's innovative family programming, and together, ensuring little ones and their families have what they need to grow up healthy and safe."

To date, the DC Diaper Bank has distributed over three million diapers! These days, they are distributing 125,000–130,000 diapers and $20,000 worth of hygiene items and formula through the Baby Pantry program each month through 37 community partners.

"Our partnership with DC Diaper Bank allows us to help our young parents with a basic need that otherwise puts a strain on the household budget," said LAYC President & CEO Lori Kaplan. "It is partners like the DC Diaper Bank and Corinne that help us remove barriers to young people's success and engage them in programs that support their educational and employment needs."

DC Diaper Bank is possible thanks to corporate donations, such as Huggies, and the commitment of very caring volunteers who package diapers at its warehouse in Silver Spring, Maryland. While DC Diaper Bank receives most of its diapers from corporations, it also relies on the kindness of individuals who host diaper drives and bring in about 10,000 diapers each month. Diapers are packed in sets of 25, which is the number of donated diapers that has a real impact on a family's budget.

We are so thankful for our partnership with Corrine Cannon and the DC Diaper Bank, and we are proud to recognize them as our August 2016 Champs for Youth Partner Spotlight.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 August 2016 17:54
Youth Testimony to the Montgomery County Council II PDF Print
Tuesday, 02 August 2016 16:38

Testimony to the Montgomery County Council

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Re: Supplemental Appropriation to the County Government's FY17 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Services

Testifying: Jose Flores, participant of the Latin American Youth Center, Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC) positive youth development programs


Good afternoon, Council.

My name is Jose Flores. I am a resident of Montgomery County. Before I joined MMYC, I was on probation for a year. In fact, I was ordered by a judge to get into a program that helps youth obtain their GED as part of my probation. My probation officer told me about this program, but honestly, I was nervous about joining since I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I thought this program was going to be another old boring program with empty classrooms and teachers not teaching. But I was wrong. This program was something uniquely different. I didn't expect this program to stick with me for the next four years of my life.

Throughout my life I have been hit with many tests and trials. At times I felt the urge of giving up hope for myself, but I always knew I had tremendous potential to achieve higher than the standards I had set for myself. I always knew the easy way out of things, which was running away from it all. This is what I was best at; this is all I knew. I never gave chances to people because I felt that nobody ever gave me a chance. So I pushed everyone away. I've been torn apart mentally and emotionally because all I knew was being behind four walls and a locked door. You see, from the age of 12 through 17, I was behind bars. These were crucial stages of my youth development. I did not develop an average teen-aged mind, and it is now that I know that. At a very young age I had to develop a mindset on how to survive in a jail environment. I had to change who I was, and I had to do it quickly. I became aggressive and passive aggressive. I became a fighter and also a leader. The first three years and a half of my experience in prison I was trying to figure out who I was trying to become, so I was lost. I was fighting anybody who came across the wrong way just to prove to people that I wasn't the one to play with. I always respected authority that showed me respect. I was never a rude person. I learned this growing up with my grandmother. That is one character trait that will always stay with me is respect. During the last 18 months, I began to utilize the skills that I had developed while being in jail. I was speaking up for the weak ones. I started leading people in a better direction. I was preaching change for the better of the youth community.

Then I joined MMYC. I found hope for a better future. Staff members were open minded, and nobody judged me. I was surrounded with people of my culture, students with similar and different backgrounds. Home probably wasn't stable to many of them. More than likely, some of my peers grew up with a single parent, and the majority of students were without a high school diploma. This program gave a lot of those youth (including myself) hope for a better future. I recognized this every day when we were all in the classroom. Students were able to express themselves, students would help each other out, and students were able to take leadership opportunities in many areas. That is what education was all about.

Now I am currently working with E.C.C. (Erosion control crew) a branch of the Montgomery County Conservation Corps. I deal with Identifying invasive plants and native plants. I help treat invasive plants with herbicide, so that native plants will grow back the way they're supposed to. Then we get to the hill parts where they have major erosion problems. We help install check dams to prevent the hill from eroding more. I learned these skills that give back to my own community while being part of the Montgomery County Conservation Corps at MMYC.

I am also a mentor with the Full Circle Brotherhood Mentoring program. I mentor middle school youth after school. I help any youth who is in need of help with homework. I participate in group activities with the youth. I go on overnight camping trips with them as well. I enjoy this program because I can help a lot of these kids develop skills to prepare them for life as a teen and adulthood. I have great insight of what I should have done differently when I was growing up into a teen.

I hope we can continue getting funded, because I love this program and I love the things they have done for Montgomery County youth. There are many opportunities for youth to grow in this program if we are given second chances. Many youth like me want to make a difference in the community.

Thank you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 August 2016 17:03
Youth Testimony to the Montgomery County Council PDF Print
Tuesday, 02 August 2016 13:48

Testimony to the Montgomery County Council

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Re: Supplemental Appropriation to the County Government's FY17 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Services

Testifying: Barry Tucker, participant of the Latin American Youth Center, Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC) positive youth development programs

Good morning ladies and gentleman,

My name is Barry Tucker. I am a former student at the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC). I want to share a little story with y'all. Before MMYC, I was a person who didn't value responsibilities. I didn't care about having a job, and I was living day by day. I didn't have a plan for the future. Not to say I didn't have responsibilities, but I just didn't care about them. I was living by myself after my mother put me out of her house. She put me out because I would keep too much company in her house. All my friends stopped hanging out with me because they realized I didn't have a place to chill at. They weren't my real friends. This happened soon after dropping out of high school during my senior year. During that time, I was just thinking, "Hey, I can get my GED when I'm 25 or something." I viewed the world as fun and games. I would wake up and the first thing that I would think about was, "Where's the next party." I didn't care about what people thought of me, including my mother, friends, or family.

A year after dropping out, I started to reflect on where my life was headed, and I asked myself, "Do I want to continue my life this way?" My mom needed help with my youngest brother. I had stopped being around him after she put me out. I was feeling bad about that because he looked up to me a lot. My other young brother was going to be released from jail soon, and he didn't have a place to go. I started noticing I wasn't making any progress in my life, and I was struggling with bills. I was faced with almost being homeless, and I had never been homeless before.

That was a wakeup call for me. Soon after, my little brother told me about this organization called MMYC. He learned about MMYC through their internship program. They gave him an opportunity to gain work experience at a DC monument providing services as a tour guide. My brother talked to staff members about my situation, and MMYC told him he should get me involved. He gave them my information, and they blew my phone up to come in for an interview.

Ever since being a part of MMYC, I have been setting goals for myself and completing them one by one. They have helped me develop many life skills throughout the last two years, ultimately achieving my high school diploma. Some of the life skills I developed were learning how to keep a job and also arriving on time to places that were important. But the most valuable skill I learned was how to put my mind towards anything I want to accomplish.

Currently, I am working two jobs. One job is with a new workforce program at MMYC called ECC (Erosion control crew). Once I finished my GED, MMYC called me up for this job. I successfully completed all of the classes and trainings needed for the job. I also work for Safeway as a day stocker. Now, I am financially stable and able to afford my own place. I now care about what my friends, family, and also co-workers think of me. I have grown to realize people look up to me and most of them see a lot of potential in me. I've decided that I do not want to let them down. I now plan for my future by continuing to set goals and keeping up with my responsibilities.

Thank you.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 August 2016 17:03
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