Young people get second chance through YouthBuild programs

A single mother from Illinois and a former gang member from Ohio knew they wanted something more out of his life ...

A single mother from Illinois and a former gang member from Ohio knew they wanted something more out of his life, and with the help of the non-profit organization YouthBuild, they have been able to continue their educations and learn useful job skills.

According to NBC News, Mackey had been immersed in a culture of drugs and gang violence throughout his childhood in Columbus, Ohio until his brother was killed and his other brother jailed, and Mackey felt that he had woken up to realize that this was not the life he wanted.

“That’s when I realized I had to take the initiative to find my way out of this position that I was in,” he said. “You know the hood.”

Mackey turned to YouthBuild, which helps youth not only to learn marketable job skills but to learn and to do things like earning a high school diploma. In addition to a focus on job skills, the organization also works to help build social skills in 45 states.

“We’re not just trying to prepare them for a dead end job. We’re saying, ‘You can be the change agent in your community,'” Dorothy Stoneman, founder and CEO of YouthBuild, said.

Since joining the program, the now-29-year-old Mackey has become a mentor to give back to the program.

Tatiana Spies from Zion, Illinois is using YouthBuild to complete her GED. Spies is a single-mother and is also an intern at a local firehouse.

“I see myself doing big things,” Spies told NBC. “I’m looking at the big picture.”