Better Lives

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Los Alamitos, USA – Mark benefits from leadership training – 29 Aug 2014

Mark’s experiences are a strong testimony to how a supportive environment, a desire to help others, and leadership training can help a person succeed.

It was late May in 2004 when 7 year old Mark first walked into the Youth Center accompanied by his mother. His family had just moved to the area and didn’t know anyone. They were looking for positive and productive programs to enroll an impressionable 7 year old boy in, so his mother signed him up for the Youth Center’s Summer Day Camp that very day. Little did Mark know that he had started an experience and amazing bond that would play a major role in his life for over the coming decade.Young timesWhen he turned 14 he began to volunteer at the Youth Center, following an interview for a volunteer position that Mark thought was “a complete failure.” He almost froze when he was asked certain questions like what activities he wanted to do with the kids at the Youth Center and how he would handle difficult situations. However, since the Youth Center staff members had known him for so many years and because of a single statement during his interview, he was given the volunteer position. The noteworthy statement Mark made was that he wanted to help kids at the Youth Center who were going through what he once experienced, of not knowing anyone and having no friends. Mark ended up being one of the very best volunteers the Youth Center has ever had and was eventually hired as a paid staff member.Older groupThis year, Mark was very excited to go to college, but scared at the same time. He had never lived on his own and wasn’t sure he would be successful without the constant support of his parents. To prepare himself, he decided to join the Youth Center’s Leadership Academy to try to learn valuable life skills that would help him when he was living on his own for the first time. Mark graduated from the Academy and had learned skills like how to set goals, budget, read nutrition labels, cook on a budget, do basic car maintenance, write a resume, interview and more.

PortraitFollowing his graduation from the Academy, Mark remarked that “I really think the most valuable skill I learned from the Youth Center’s Leadership Academy was confidence in the professional interviewing process,” Mark explained. “I used to get really nervous during interviews, but the Leadership Academy helped me with that. Now I feel confident interviewing for almost any position. I can’t tell you how much that has changed my life for the better. I can honestly say that I was not just hired as a paid staff member by the Youth Center because they knew me as a kid or because I volunteered. I was hired because my interview skills helped me stand out as an excellent candidate amongst 60 other applicants.”

Mark is proud to announce that he was accepted to Northern Arizona University and will study Chemical or Mechanical Engineering. His is looking forward to a long and exciting career in the engineering field. We wish him all success.