KINGSTON – A single family house on Susan Street in Midtown Kingston is being fully renovated by a group of young volunteers. Once completed, the property will be sold to a low-income family. Ulster YouthBuild, run through the YMCA, provides free labor, while training young people in life skills and leadership. The latest project was announced Friday at the construction site.
The YouthBuild team in front of the fixer-upper they will fix up
Youth Build is very similar to Habitat for Humanity, except it has an educational component that can be used as credit towards a high school general equivalency diploma, or GED. Training includes character toughening, leadership skills, math and English, alongside construction and demolition work experience.
The program is funded through the US Department of Labor, and partners locally with the YMCA, RUPCO, and other local organizations.
“I understand what you’re doing here,” said State Senator George Amedore. “I do this for a living. There’s no question that if we want to have revitalization in our community, what we have to do in public office, is provide resources and investment. And then what we need you to do, is use that elbow grease, be willing to get your hands dirty, use your brain, and those back muscles, and to learn.”
John Mayr Jr., the construction site coordinator, who supervises volunteers and trains them for future industry careers, is a YouthBuild graduate himself.
“You guys invested in me 18 years ago, and here I am giving back. Thank you for investing in these young people, because they’re going to be the leaders of the future,” Mayr said.
“It’s so gratifying to see someone who took training from the Youth Build program, and went on to start his own successful construction company,” Bonnie Landi, Ulster YouthBuild executive director said. “When I called him and talked about the need we have here in YouthBuild, he was right there.”
Volunteer Justin Krum, a Saugerties High school graduate, explained his motivation for volunteering.
“I didn’t go to college,” Krum noted. “I wanted to further my education, pick up better skills and knowledge of carpentry. There was so much stuff to throw away before even we got to this stage, garbage, roofing, siding, demo, cleanup. Pretty soon we’ll start the rebuild process.”
The first YouthBuild program was established in 1978 in East Harlem by Dorothy Stoneman and a team of young people eager to improve their communities. It was replicated in with tax levy funds from1984 to 1988. YouthBuild USA, Inc. was established by Stoneman in 1990 to orchestrate its national duplication. By 1992 there were 20 local privately funded YouthBuild programs in 11 states.