David dropped out of high school in the 11th grade when he could no longer deal with the bullying at his school and teachers were unable to help him. Now at 20-years-old, he was living with his mom, spending his days playing video games, hanging out with friends in a similar situation. Then he came to the WSOS Community Action Commission’s YouthBuild program in Toledo.

The YouthBuild program helps 18-24-year-old youth who have dropped out of high school and are unemployed. It combines academics with vocational training, employment skills, and community service. It also provides participants with leadership training, peer support, job placement, and follow-up support services.

“This is the best thing I could have done for myself,” David said. After learning about the program from his mother, who heard of it from someone else, he decided to give it a try.
“I thought it would be a waste of time,” he said. However, not wanting to disappoint his mom, he applied and after the initial assessment to determine his aptitudes he started classes in the Toledo Restaurant program to become a chef.

David chose the restaurant industry because he grew up around an aunt who loved to cook. He said he was always interested in how she made such exciting meals out of whatever was available in the home. Being in the classes only confirmed his belief that this is what he wants to do – be a chef.

After he did not pass the GED exam the first time he took it, he was worried he’d never pass it, but to his surprise he passed it on his second try. Now, he’s about to complete the classes and begin an internship with a local chef.

“I knew I was better than who I was at that time,” he said. “I just needed a push. Now, I’m looking forward to a good future and making my mom proud.”

David said after completing his time with YouthBuild he will not have much time to play video games anymore because he will be busy filling people’s tummies with good, nutritious, and tasty foods.

For more information about Community Action programs in your area, visit www.oacaa.org. Note, not all Community Action Agencies offer these programs.

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