The YWCA Family Resource Center in Woodlawn was recently filled with laughter and smiles as 17 teenagers celebrated their graduation from the Summer CREW program, a partnership between the YWCA Central Alabama and the Woodlawn Foundation.
As the graduates entered the room, the growth that had taken place in these teenagers was evident. In eight short weeks, these young men and young women who initially entered the program with no expectations had blossomed into hard-working and responsible young adults equipped with valuable life skills that will serve them well for years to come.
YWoodlawn Housing Coordinator Marie King welcomed everyone to the ceremony and thanked the parents and sponsors for their continued commitment to their students during the program. Sally Mackin, Executive Director for the Woodlawn Foundation spoke about the origins of the program and the importance of providing this opportunity for the youth in the Woodlawn community.
Pastor Samuel Dansby and Mike Thomas offered words of encouragement to the students – challenging them to become men and women of integrity, to always do their best and to never give up.
Dansby stressed the importance of proper preparation as they continue their education and plan their future. “Decide what it is that you want to do and make a plan. Set aim on your goal and go higher,” he said.
Thomas challenged the students to make a lasting impression.”Always carry yourself like the kings and queens that you are – rise up and be as great as you can be,” he said. “Don’t limit yourself or your dreams because the rest of the world is so much bigger than Woodlawn.”
The Summer CREW program provided work training and enrichment opportunities for our YWoodlawn teens ages 14-18. The teenagers were placed at two work sites. Thirteen students worked within the Woodlawn community and four students traveled to the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) campsite at Bluff Park. UCP CREW members provided support for campers at the UCP summer camp program and Woodlawn CREW members worked on landscaping projects, painting, neighborhood clean-up and odd jobs.
The program arose out of the need to provide meaningful activity for the teenagers in Woodlawn during the summer months. Although younger siblings often have summer alternatives like camp, older youth typically have few to no positive choices.
Jason Hinton, a CREW participant reflected on his experience. “I’m proud to say that Woodlawn is the community that I serve. This program has changed me.”
At the close of the program, each student was presented with a certificate of completion. After the ceremony, CREW members were treated to a day of fun at The Playstation in Trussville.
The YW would like to extend a very special thank you to Kemp Management Solutions, PNC Foundation, Protective Life and the Woodlawn Foundation and all of our generous donors who were involved in making this program successful.
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