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July 25, 2013

Urban Youth Impact is Helping Make Dreams a Reality

by PBUnitedWay

Resilient. That’s the word that best describes Rachelle.

Rachelle refuses to allow stereotypes, the shortcomings of other family members, or her unstable home life hold her back. Her ability to not merely survive, but also to thrive in the midst of adversity has played out daily as she struggles with an unstable home environment.

Rachelle has endured both physical and emotional abuse from her mother. She has been displaced and put in the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) multiple times throughout her childhood. Despite this, Rachelle has an incredible resiliency and a determination to rise above her circumstances.

Rachelle has gained the strength to advocate for herself. Most recently, she worked with social workers to remove herself from her mother’s home so she could, instead, live with her grandmother in a more stable, supportive environment.

Many youth in Rachelle’s situation would buckle under the pressures of the environment. But Rachelle is determined not to follow in her mother’s footsteps and to avoid joblessness and dependency. She has found mentors to encourage her at Urban Youth Impact, at school (her AP English teacher) and within her family (her aunt, the only college graduate in her family).

Although her father (whom she has only met several times) didn’t graduate high school and her mother never attended college, Rachelle has dreams of not only attaining a bachelor’s degree, but also going on to seek an advanced degree. The top of her resume reads “Future OB/GYN”. This dream propels Rachelle forward and pushes her to excel academically and work hard in every aspect of her life.

Rachelle became involved with Urban Youth Impact in the summer of 2012 when she learned about the Summer Work Program. Because of her family’s situation, work has never been optional for Rachelle — she has been employed over the summers since she was 13.

IMG_20130701_162020Rachelle interviewed and was selected for one of Urban Youth Impact’s internship placements. Because of her interest in the medical field, she was placed at the Community Health Center. Working at the Community Health Center has taught Rachelle basic medical office training and provided her with an opportunity for interaction with patients.

Rachelle’s maturity truly shines through in her work. While working at the Community Health Center, Rachelle once encountered a woman who came in for a rapid AIDS test. The woman was extremely anxious about the potential outcome of her test. Rachelle, though only 17 at the time, demonstrated true concern for the woman, doing her best to comfort and encourage her.

Rachelle has applied to be part of the Summer Work Program (part of ReFrame Work Program) again this summer.

The Town of Palm Beach United Way funds organizations like Urban Youth Impact, making success stories like Rachelle’s possible.

Since 1945, the Town of Palm Beach United Way has invested more than $60 million into Palm Beach County because of generous donors like you. Although some of the needs since 1945 have changed, the Town of Palm Beach United Way is still helping people who struggle with hunger, homelessness, job loss, abuse, mental illness, and more.  To find out more about the Town of Palm Beach United Way visit www.palmbeachunitedway.org.   On behalf of the community that we serve, THANK YOU for the difference you make. 

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