“Everybody was born with a fire inside of them. You’ve got to be able to rub those sticks together and ignite it right back.”
Those words come from Jude Bryant, a student in Easterseals YouthBuild who shared his personal story of growth and transformation with YMCA Strong Life podcast hosts Kathy Lehr and Jessiah Brock.
“Being here has not only helped me grow into a better man, it’s helped to understand who I am as a man,” he said.
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“I was going the wrong path before I came to YouthBuild. If I had kept doing the same thing I was doing, I would have been a statistic.”
YouthBuild allows young adults who did not complete high school the opportunity to earn their diploma while building skills for careers in construction and other in-demand industries.
Jude says the opportunities made available to him have taken his life in a new direction, which includes an upcoming apprenticeship in carpentry. It’s also given him a new approach to problem-solving, whether it’s on a job site or outside of work.
“There’s always a way to figure something out. There’s always a way to get under that obstacle, over that hurdle, and whatever it is, I’ll do it.”
He also lives by a new mantra. “They say you gotta think big if you want to live large.”
Jude now dreams bigger about what the future holds for him, including starting his own business and investing in real estate.
Jude’s classmate Meghan Maiocco also sees a brighter future ahead for herself and her family because of Easterseals YouthBuild. Like Jude, she is about to start an apprenticeship in carpentry.
“When I was younger, I made some bad decisions and ended up dropping out of high school. I really wasn’t doing much with my life,” Meghan shared.
Meghan was part of a career technical program to learn construction before leaving high school. She enjoyed learning and the hands-on work.
When she became a mom, Meghan found a new inspiration to do more with her life and follow her passion.
“She’s my biggest motivation, and I’m so happy my life has turned out the way it has,” Meghan said. “I learned that I’m a lot stronger than I once thought.”
Meghan now gets joy doing service-related projects through YouthBuild. She’s been involved in major home improvements like installing accessible ramps and building safer decking for veterans served by Easterseals.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to help somebody like that and make something at the same time.”
Jude and Meghan hope to inspire other young adults to pursue their dreams like they did, even when their dreams might seem out of reach.
“Go back to that ‘why.’ Why did you start doing this?” Jude says. “As long as you can keep finding that one reason why, anything’s possible.”
“Find your passion and follow it. No matter what it is,” Meghan says. “No matter what you have to do. Do it, because it’s not worth just settling.”
“It doesn’t matter what circumstances you end up with. You can pursue your dreams, do whatever you want, and be whatever you want.”
Click here to learn more about the construction training programs available at Easterseals.
Click here to learn how you can invest in Easterseals construction training programs and expand the number of qualified candidates for hard-to-fill jobs in the workforce.