By Patrick Breton, YouthBuild Brockton Graduate, Academy for Transformation, YouthBuild USA
I attended YouthBuild Brockton in the fall of 2007 because I wanted to get my life on the right track. I had a long history of smoking marijuana and selling drugs throughout the Boston area. I stole cars, shoplifted, and was on probation for six years--from age 16 to 22. One day my mother suggested YouthBuild as a way for me to start fresh and make enough money to support myself. After a phone call and an interview, I was accepted into YouthBuild Brockton's orientation program, appropriately called Mental Toughness. I immediately fell in love with the program and have been both an example and a champion of YouthBuild's commitment to developing young people through nontraditional means.
YouthBuild worked for me because of its highly motivational and supportive atmosphere. In addition to the caring and committed staff, I was with like-minded peers. I started YouthBuild with a carefree attitude and didn't have any expectations or long term goals. However, during my year at YouthBuild, serving as an AmeriCorps member, I unexpectedly developed tremendous leadership capacity and was nominated to serve as YouthBuild Brockton's delegate for the Conference of Young Leaders (CoYL) in Washington, D.C. Organized by YouthBuild USA, CoYL is a national conference of YouthBuild students convened to recognize and celebrate their service and leadership. At CoYL, I learned how my time at YouthBuild was more than just a personal accomplishment--it was a national movement. I realized that I was a part of an organization inspiring change in communities and working to create a better society for my generation and those to come.
After graduating from YouthBuild Brockton in 2008, I served on YouthBuild USA's Views On Improving Credentials and Education Success (VOICES) Student Advisory Council for three years. There I had the opportunity to share my insights regarding crucial supports and significant challenges that shape postsecondary experiences for individuals forced to take nontraditional approaches towards academic success. I also learned a great deal about my peers across the country and how we all struggled to try and fit into a society that viewed us not as people, but as statistics.
While serving on VOICES, I earned an associate degree in multimedia communications at Massasoit Community College (MCC) in Brockton, MA. There I served as a member of the Media Access Club, which handled all forms of media coverage on campus. I had the pleasure of producing a two-hour radio show, playing different types of music and sharing entertainment news with the student body. I served as the emcee for the campus' annual Martin Luther King Jr. event and organized several on-campus activities. Additionally, I was vice president of the Bridge Mix Club at MCC, an organization made up of YouthBuild graduates and MCC students that serves as a peer-to-peer outreach group.
I am currently a member of YouthBuild's Affiliated Network Policy Council, where I assist with recommending and implementatingYouthBuild program policies. I'm also an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) in YouthBuild USA's Academy for Transformation department. As a VISTA, I will spend this year of service helping to address the needs of low-income communities by building YouthBuild USA's capacity to more effectively bring individuals and communities out of poverty.
As a result of YouthBuild's support in helping me realize my potential, I've developed extensive leadership qualities, professional skills, and the knowledge necessary to want and own a business. That's why I became an entrepreneur. I wanted to continue my growth as a leader while simultaneously securing a financial foundation for myself and family members to come.
After completing my term of service, I plan on launching ChainMail Entertainment Records (CMER), a multi-faceted entertainment company that will cover all components needed for making an impression in the main stream industry, including but not limited to audio and video production, digitization, distribution packages, recording, marketing, and branding of entertainers contracted and non-contracted. CMER is a result of my leadership skills, hard work, passion, and commitment. Additionally, I plan on using the knowledge I gain from my current VISTA service term around event planning and project management to my advantage and hopefully take ChainMail Entertainment international.
I'm on a mission that YouthBuild helped me to formulate. I look at my future and know that I'll be successful. I've developed into a leader, entrepreneur, and a motivated man. I will always serve and represent YouthBuild.
I owe YouthBuild for changing my life and giving me the opportunity to free myself from being a statistic. I've been humbled and am most appreciative of my YouthBuild experiences. I will continue to be a mentor with hopes that my story and experiences will have a positive impact on students and our future.