I didn’t want to quit or go backward . . .

I came to The Children’s Village because I had nowhere else to go. I had traveled from South America, and it was my first year in the United States. Within three months, I was arrested, and I felt like I didn’t have much of a life. At 16 I arrived at CV’s campus, and this is where I was connected to CV’s mentoring program. They held group mentoring sessions, and meeting with the group helped put me on a path to live a life I was excited about. We talked about how to hold ourselves accountable and how to stay out of trouble. I even received help learning to speak and read better English.

Last year, we focused on setting goals, and one major goal for me was getting a job. One of my mentors was able to help me get an interview at Yankee Stadium, and I was hired shortly after. I would always walk by the stadium and was a big baseball fan, so when I was able to start working there, I was so excited! I never thought I’d be working somewhere so cool. I was trained to be on food prep but discovered I wanted to be more involved and was promoted to cook, finally feeling like I was taking steps on my own. In the next few months, I was moved up to cashier, but I hit a roadblock—I couldn’t read a lot of the new menu items. I had never handled money. I didn’t want to quit or go backward, so, after hours, my mentors and peers helped me learn the new menu and practice counting bills. I finally got it! After a few months, I was promoted to group lead.

Completing my goal felt amazing. Looking back, I know the bigger accomplishment was being able to practice patience with myself and others. Now, mentoring is such a big part of my life that I’ve become so accustomed to this support system; and I look forward to going to group. My next goal is to finish my GED program and hopefully get my associate degree in the next year. My dream is to go away to school and be able to live on a college campus. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a mentor one day!

Dominick is enrolled in our T.E.A.M. aftercare program, which supports Bronx and Harlem teen residents transitioning from juvenal justice facilities. Through T.E.A.M. (Transform and Empower youth to Aspire through Mentoring), participants explore effective communication, emotional awareness, self-care, job readiness, financial literacy, education, wellness, and restorative justice. Our program, led by Credible Messengers, offers interactive group sessions and personalized journaling to foster growth and empowerment.

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