Studying the Arts Abroad

After studying abroad in Florence, DREAMS for Youth Scholarship recipient Marie St-Cyr shares her thoughts on the experience, made possible by an enrichment scholarship.

What is the educational experience abroad like? How does it compare to that at home?

The educational experience abroad is very different from the one back at my home college. At the Lorenzo De Medici the teachers help us learn about the way we approach art instead of just creating it. The process behind the artwork is more important than the technicality. I feel that I have definitely grown a lot by attending this school. In one semester, I have produced triple the amount of artwork here than I usually do back at FIT. Although the workload is a lot, I am enjoying it. Compared to FIT, here at Lorenzo de Medici, I am given more freedom to pursue what I want to do. The teachers also help guide me in the right direction. For the second half of the semester, all of the students have to work on their own independent project, which I really like because it allows me to pursue something that I am really interested in. The classes here are also very small, only 9 students or less, compared to FIT where there would be 21 students in a painting class. Overall, I have gained quite a bit of knowledge from studying abroad that augments my education at the Fashion Institute of Technology back home.

Are there other students from the states and other parts of the world involved with the program?

There are about seven other students from my major that are also participating in the program, but overall there are about 300 students from FIT that are involved with the program. There are also many other students from around the world that are involved with the program, mainly from England.

Have you made new friends and learned anything new about life from being abroad?

I have made a lot of new friends during my stay in Italy. Many of my classmates from FIT that are also involved with the program, I have become close friends with them. I am also happy that I became close with my housemates, especially my roommate Clara, who is also from FIT. While traveling across Europe I have met a lot of amazing people who made me laugh and helped me navigate my way around Europe. I have learned a lot about life from being abroad. It was very interesting to see how friendly and laid back many of the people in Europe were. While on tour in Denmark, a tour guide told us that in that country, many take time out to “relax and make sure that they hurry less as they and work toward satisfaction”. I have decided to make my new motto for life. I have learned to be more relaxed and to embrace change! I have definitely grown from being abroad.

Where you able to visit other countries in Europe?

During Spring Break, my room-mate and I were able to backpack through 14 countries staying at local hostels that charge as little as $10.00 per night. It was great to see not only the artwork but also many points of interest that I had only read about.

Student Reflection – Bank of America Professional Development and Community Service Day

By Toni Hughes

Hughes, ToniThursday, July 21, 2016 was the second year that I attended Bank of America’s Professional Development and Community Service Day. Forty young people from all over Long Island came together for this eventful day of professional development, financial literacy, social media etiquette and community service. I had a lot of fun at this same event last year, but this year I found myself more invested in and intrigued by the topics, as I found myself with more responsibilities.

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The day began at 9:00a.m with the most genius combination of activities ever, eating and playing. As you were handed a nametag and raffle ticket you were presented with a wonderful table full of bagels, juices, water, coffee, butters, jams, and
cream cheeses. During breakfast a classic game of “People Bingo,” a game in which we all had to introduce ourselves to each other in order to find someone who matched our bingo squares and complete our bingo sheets was played. During the game I met a lot of interesting people, one person’s name was Jay and she knew how to Tango, which was both interesting and groupuseful because that was one of my last missing squares. I also met Kristian, who truly loved his college, Johnson and Wales, and his major, Culinary Arts. We spoke about when I was going on college tours how I visited Johnson and Wales and I thought that it was
absolutely spectacular with its delicious food cooked by students like him. What can I say, I was blinded by my love of food. At the end of the game, two prizes were given to two randomly chosen young people who had competed the entire bingo sheet.

Throughout the day a number of candid photos were taken along with one large photo opportunity alongside Bank of America Executive staff. We were also introduced to a variety of leaders throughout the day. These were the kind of people that you wanted to get a business card from, as they could be a helpful future contact. All of the day’s wonderfully kind and informative people of Bank of America included Lorraine Aycock, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Business & Community Engagement, Mary Ellen King, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, Bob Isaksen, the Long Island Market President, Cathy Duque, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, and James Lubin, a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch. Two of the presenters who were not a part of Bank of America, were Alicia Ray, a Digital Media Professional & Graphic Design Professor, and Sandra Mahoney, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Long Island.

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Mary Ellen King,Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources, teaching the students valuable interview skills

After breakfast, there was a welcome from Lorraine Aycock and Sandra Mahoney. They explained what would happen throughout the day, introduced all of the leaders in the room, and then had students introduce ourselves to the room. These always awkward but usually incredibly funny introductions were followed by a PowerPoint presentation that was put together by Mary Ellen King on career planning, resume writing, and interviewing skills. With this presentation, we were taught how to properly prepare for and act at an interview, from fleshing out our resume to shaking hands and even to sending a thank you card or e-mail to our interviewer the day after the interview. Mrs. King was so invested in assuring that everyone understood the importance of a good handshake and greeting during an interview with a possible employer that she went around the entire room and ensured that she got to shake every students’ hand. At the conclusion of the PowerPoint program Mr. Bob Isaksen took over.

 

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Bob Isaksen, Long Island President of Bank of America, speaking to students

Bob Isaksen asked some of the students what they were interested in doing in the future and how their current summer jobs through the Bank of America’s Youth Employment Program could help them. He also asked how many students wanted to stay on Long Island and how many wanted to either go into New York City or leave the state/country completely. Barely anyone raised their hands to stay on Long Island, but I was one of these few. Most of the young people wanted to go into New York City and there were two or three who wanted to leave the state or country. I told Mr. Isaksen how I want to be a high school psychologist and that this summer job is helpful to me by connecting me with people who could be helpful contacts in the future. Kristian stated how he wants to open up a restaurant to teach teenagers how to cook, which would be like an afterschool extracurricular. After Mr. Isaksen spoke to us, there was a photo opportunity and everyone went to the lobby to take a group photo with both Bob Isaksen and Lorraine Aycock.

 

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Financial Adviser James Lubin, and Senior Vice President Cathy Duque

After the large group photo was taken the day’s Financial Literacy program began. Now this was probably the most useful part of the day for me. Cathy Duque and James Lubin ran the program and taught all us young people about credit cards, debit cards, credit scores, and budgeting. Mr. Lubin started the presentation and asked how many of us students budgeted and believed ourselves to be good at it. Barely anyone raised their hands. He then gave us advice on how to save money and asked how many of us knew our credit score. This time a few people raised their hands but not many more than the last time. Mr. Lubin then followed up by explaining the different levels of credit scores, ranging from exceptional to poor. I now know that an exceptional score ranges from 800-850, a very good score is around 740-799, good is 670-739, fair is 580-669, and poor is anywhere from 300-579. I also went home after this day and checked my own credit score. I’m currently waiting for the results.

 

studentsAfter Mr. Lubin talked to us, Mrs. Duque did her part in explaining the difference between credit and debit cards, along with explaining in very simple terms how credit card companies are built to make themselves money. She pretty much stated that people have to take out credit cards in order to better their credit scores, meaning that they have to get into debt at some point in their lives, which can be a setup for failure if you’re not careful. She also told us to always read the fine print on credit card contracts and to be careful of cards that say they have 0% interest because those usually have outrageous interest rates after a certain time period, such as a year. At the end of this half of the day, the presenters asked if any of us had any questions about finances to which a lot of students had questions ranging from how to save up money for college to how to get a loan to open up a business in the future.

Once the financial literacy portion of the day was over my next favorite part of the day came, more food! At noon, lunch was served. Lunch consisted of salads, sandwiches, sodas, and water. YUM!

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Alicia Sherwood-Ray, digital media professional & graphic design professor, showing the impact of social media

At the end of the lunch period, a display on how social media can both positively and negatively affect one’s life was shown by Alicia Ray. Mrs. Ray taught us how easily one can ruin their entire life by a decision they decide to share on social media because nothing on the internet is truly private, hidden, or deleted. It’s scary to say but there is such a thing as “Big Brother” because bots, the cloud, and stations monitor everything. Snapchat is not really secure, everyone! Like I said, nothing truly disappears. She had everyone Google themselves, as she had done in the past, and look at what came up. She also informed us of different websites employers use to weed out and learn about possible and current employees. One website that was particularly interesting to me was Pipl.com. I searched myself on both Google and Pipl.com. Nothing came up for me on Google, but for Pipl I did find my YouTube account along with my Pinterest, which I never made private. You can bet that I privatized my Pinterest account after I found it, and if there was a way to make my YouTube account private I would do that too.

 

Now, even though when I Googled my name I found nothing when I Googled my name and the town where I live I found a whole Google page on myself, sheesh. Luckily, all of the pages are of good things, such as the different plays and musicals I was in, my swimming times, and being on the news for having twelve-years of perfect attendance. Mrs. Ray told everyone that even though there is no way to really delete any of the bad things you do online, one of the simplest/most effective ways to streamline information about ourselves is to make our social media pages private and to think twice about what we post before we post it. She also gave us a loophole, create a lot of positive content, such as opening up a blog and creating other pages with information about ourselves, in order to try to push some of our less proud days further and further back on Google pages. There’s your sly tip of the day, you’re welcome!

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PR Manager Dana Lope of the Mary Brennan INN

The last activity of the day was a community service project with Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), an organization that helps those in need, such as those who are homeless, or just in dire need get daily necessities, such as food, showers, or clothing. The representative for the organization told us about a man who was a three-time medalist at the Olympics and was one of the people that the organization helped.

 

She told us that the INN does not ask questions about how someone got into their particular situation, but that when this man willingly told his story it reminded her that everyone has a backstory. Once the speech about how this community service project would help those in need concluded everyone, youth and adults alike, were asked, to prepare sandwiches. In total, there were 1,500 sandwiches made, some were turkey and cheese, others were bologna, and the last kind were cheese. Helping others always made me feel good, so when I learned that all of the prepared sandwiches would be distributed the next day, a Friday, as the INN is not open on the weekends, and that the sandwiches I made would assist in getting these people through that timeframe I felt both proud and humbled.

During the concluding remarks, where Sandra Mahoney spoke, she thanked everyone for attending this important event and invited us all to come back next year. She also pulled out the winning raffle ticket of the day from the morning that all students were entered in. A young man won and seemed very happy to receive his basket full of movie snacks, four movie tickets, and some more goodies to enjoy at a cinematic wonder. Everyone was allowed to take a Bank of America notebook and pen along with a Bank of America folder that held useful information about budgeting and a printed version of Mrs. King’s career planning presentation as a parting gift.

To me the entire day, from beginning to end, was a wonderful learning experience and a great day for everyone, myself included, to make business connections, as I have been saying this entire writing. With this said, a few people asked for business cards at the end of the program, so I think that it was a success.

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An Iron Worker With A Heart of Gold

Anthony Royster PictureAnthony Royster is on top of the world – literally as an iron worker stationed on the Verrazano Bridge, and figuratively with a happy and loving family at home – but it wasn’t always this way.

Anthony grew up in a single-parent home in Wyandanch, with an older sister and two younger brothers where physical and mental abuse was commonplace. Without positive role models in his life, he searched for an escape, but was led down the wrong path where he was later arrested and incarcerated.

Upon his release, Anthony realized he needed to turn his life around. He had heard about United Way of Long Island’s YouthBuild program from a cousin who had participated and successfully graduated, and the timing couldn’t have been better. In an effort to build a better life for himself, as well as his soon-to-be-born daughter, he decided to take a positive step and enroll. “I wanted to do something with myself, and become the man I always knew I should be,” Anthony explained.

With a new found sense of self and determination, Anthony completed the program in December of 2014, and graduated in June of 2015 when he earned his GED. It took four attempts to reach this milestone goal, but his experience in YouthBuild taught him the importance of perseverance, and he never gave up.

As a single father raising his young daughter, Anthony moved to North Carolina in April of 2015 and worked alongside his grandfather at a cab stand. This opportunity, along with his learnings from YouthBuild, put into practice the value of hard work and what comes with having a steady and reliable job. He moved back to New York that September, when he learned about United Way partner organization Opportunities Long Island, an intensive pre-apprenticeship training program that provides direct-entry into the local union. He completed his training program and graduated in April, quickly securing a new career working as an iron worker apprentice for Local 361 Union Structural Iron workers on the Verrazano Bridge.

These days, Anthony’s life is full of promise. He comes home each day to his wife Nadia, her daughter Laila and his daughter Mia who are both two years old and the best of friends. He has ambitions to further his education, own his own business and buy a home for his family.

“I am a man now, before I was a young boy looking out for only myself,” he says. “YouthBuild helped me get out of my comfort zone and I am a better man, a better husband, a better father looking to help my community in the best way possible. I’m still growing and have things I need to work on, but I’d like to speak to the students and people who are struggling around me and tell them that nothing is handed to you. You have to put in the extra effort, you have to want to change the cycle of negativity.”

It’s important to Anthony that he be the role model he never had as a young man. He adds “Be patient – patience saves you. Reach out to positive people, YouthBuild is full of positive individuals and they are all role models. Change is your responsibility – make your mother proud, your little siblings proud, your kids proud. When you get knocked down, all you can do is get back up and keep going.”

Anthony may work with iron and steel, but with his heart of gold the possibilities are endless.

Starting Anew at Age 82!

DSC_0220.JPGThe phrase “A strong work ethic” is a fitting description for Korean Era veteran David Himmelheber, but doesn’t quite do his drive justice. He has worked hard his whole life and is not looking to stop anytime soon, especially after graduating from VetsBuild and beginning a new career at the age of 82.

David had a good upbringing; the middle of seven children, he was born in Clarksville, Indiana. He observed how hard his dad worked during The Great Depression and World War II in order to succeed and provide for his family. His father’s work ethic has made everlasting lasting impression on David and the way he lives his life.

During World War II, the Himmelheber’s moved to Bloomington, Indiana. David’s dad, a radio buff who built one of the first Crystal Radios, was invited to teach electronics and radio to teenage kids who dropped out of high school.

Eventually David’s dad started to work on radio equipment for war planes. This is when David acquired his love for the military and flight, and at 16, he joined the Local Civil Air Patrol. As an 18-year old in high school, he joined a new Indiana National Guard Unit being organized by local World War II veterans (Company B, 138th Heavy Tank Battalion). After just one year, he was promoted to Staff Sargent (E-5) as a Tank Commander.

In 1950 he enrolled at Western Kentucky University, but in 1952, just one year into his college education, he dropped out to join the U.S. Navy Pilot training program during the Korean War. Eventually he ended up on the flight deck of the ill-fated USS Bennington.

At about 6:01 a.m. on May 26, 1954, while cruising about 60 miles off eastern Long Island, disaster struck. During a pre-dawn launch of all aircrafts, the hydraulic fluid in the catapult control room began leaking fluid in mist form, which was then detonated in the “nonsmoking zone” by a cigarette-smoking sailor. This set off a series of over 20 secondary explosions in the front part of the warship which killed 104 crew men and badly injured 210 others.

Himmelheber escaped serious injury and was able to assist those who were not so lucky. For his actions he was awarded the Naval Commendation Medal for Valor.

The aircraft carrier eventually limped into New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn for repair. During this time of reconstruction, David and his fellow shipmates often journeyed into Manhattan to attended USO dances. This is where he met his wife of 60 years. They were married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and settled on Long Island.

David started his working career as an engineer aid and then as a cost accountant at Sperry Gyroscope in New Hype Park. He graduated from St. John’s University in 1960, part of  the first graduating class from the new Queens campus. Following his graduation, David  set his sights on a Wall Street career, and what a career it was.

David first started working for others, then he spent almost 20 years at his own research firm; totaling 35 years as a successful stock analyst.

When the market began to decline as a result of 9/11, the demand for stock research began to drop, and for the first time in his life, David was out of work.

Not being one to sit around for long, he started to work selling Verizon FIOS, where he quickly became one of their top sales people. After five years, he moved on to work for construction material sales and then one day he saw an interesting ad in his local Pennysaver.

“I saw an ad about a program from United Way of Long Island called VetsBuild for military veterans where, if accepted, I could learn about green construction that could perhaps lead to a new career at 82,” recalled Himmelheber.DSC_0229.JPG

Accepted into the program, David thrived among his younger counterparts. He said, “I have always been inquisitive and outgoing. I did the entire program including the hands-on construction skills. The instructors were great, and before I knew it, I had the tools for a new career. VetsBuild gives veterans the chance to learn a new job or convert from conventional construction to green building. It’s a great program.”

At the VetsBuild graduation, he met Robert Schwartz of AMERICAN A.W.S. in Holbrook. The company performs home energy audits to save homeowners money and convert to cleaner forms of power. The two quickly connected and Himmelheber joined their team.

At 85, he is not slowing down. David said, “I work full time with new customers, assisting in their audits, explaining the findings and helping them acquire new cleaner energy alternatives at lower cost.”

With a wife and four grown children, Himmelheber lives in Commack and doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. With a house to maintain and bills to pay he is happy to still be an active part of Long Island workforce. Putting it all into perspective, David said with a laugh, “I need the money and I like the work. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

Quite a story!

United Way Celebrates the Class of 2016!

 

Thank you to all of the funders of YouthBuild and VetsBuild for your support of these students:

Albanese Organization, Inc. • Allstate • AT&T • Bank of America Charitable Foundation • Byron T + Ruth D Miller Scholarship Fund • Capital One • Citi Community Development • Island Outreach Foundation • JP Morgan Chase Foundation • MSC Industrial Direct Co. Inc. • National Grid • New York State Department of Labor • New York State Department of State • New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance • Pritchard Charitable Trust • Prudential Insurance Company of America • Tri State Capital Bank • The Countess Moira Charitable Foundation • U. S. Department of Labor • Veronica B. Renken

As well as a special thank you to our Partners:

Advanced Control Systems • Anthony Sampson • Babylon IDA • Bellport Hagerman, East Patchogue Alliance, Inc.• Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area • Brookhaven National Laboratory • Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties • Child Care Council of Suffolk • Composite Prototyping Center • Empire State • EmPower Solar • Development Corporation • Electrical Training Center • Eva Rodriguez • Family Service League • Girls Inc. • Great South Bay YMCA • Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk • Health & Welfare Council of Long Island • Huntington Opportunity Resource Center • LISTnet Digital Ballpark • Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW • Long Island Coalition for the Homeless • Long Island EOC • Long Island Federation of Labor • Long Island Regional Economic Development Council • Mission United • Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee • Northeast Gas Specialists • Northwell Health • New York State Office of Children and Family Services • Northport Veteran Affairs Medical Center • NYSERDA • Opportunities Long Island • RELI • SCO Family of Services and Bridge to Health • Stony Brook University Center for Corporate Education • Suffolk County Community College Foundation • Suffolk County Department of Labor • Suffolk County Department of Social Services • Suffolk County Community College • Suffolk County Fatherhood Initiative • Suffolk County Police Department • Suffolk County Re-Entry Task Force • Suffolk County Sheriff’s Youth Tier Initiative • Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge Fernando M. Comacho • Town of Hempstead Department of Occupational Resources • Town of Islip Community Development Agency • Urban League of Long Island • VIBS • Workforce Development Institute • Wyandanch Family Life & Youth Center • Wyandanch Homes & Property Development Corporation • Wyandanch Opportunity Agenda • Wyandanch Public Library • Wyandanch Resource Center • YMCA of Bay Shore

United Way of Long Island is an equal opportunity employer and the YouthBuild Long Island program is an equal opportunity program . The YouthBuild Long Island program offers auxiliary aid, services and activities upon request, to individuals with disabilities. The Youth-Build Long Island program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

A Green Home – Inside and Out

DSC_0289Projects that give back to the community are a benefit to all who live there, but what about a project that is performed by those who are paying it forward to others like them? That’s exactly what is happening in Patchogue, where United Way of Long Island is in the process of building an energy-efficient home for veterans, by veterans.

Not only will this house be ‘green’ on the inside, but the greenery outside will add to the low cost and healthy living of the home. Bissett Nursery was on hand at the house, planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are not only low-maintenance but were specifically selected for their heartiness and ease of care, saving even more money for those living in the home. Representatives from Bissett worked with VetsBuild and Youthbuild students, teaching them about the art of horticulture as well as working hands-on digging in the dirt and operating heavy machinery to enhance the landscaping.

“There is a culture of service at Bissett that starts at the executive level and permeates throughout the staff,” said Bob Pospischil, President of Bissett Nursery. “We are proud to assist United Way in making a difference in the community. We hope our involvement challenges other companies to do the same.”

“Building a zero-energy home doesn’t stop at the walls of the house,” added Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “We thank Bissett for adding their specialized and extensive knowledge to this project, helping to ensure that the family who lives here feels confident that the outside of their home will only add to the beauty, and not the cost, of living.”

“Bissett has been a true asset to this project, and we are lucky to have their expertise available to us as we build this home,” said Rick Wertheim, senior vice president of housing initiatives at United Way of Long Island. “Seeing our students actively engaged, and sincerely interested in learning about the science of plants and their purpose beyond the superficial appearance aspect made for a great day.”DSC_0275

Jim Vazzana, veteran and Customer Service Specialist at Bissett Nusery commented that “There is a great feeling when you volunteer your time to teach those who are eager to learn, especially when that knowledge is an investment in the future of those who served our country.”  “I saw this project as an
opportunity to benefit; youth, our local heroes and the horticultural community,” concluded Bill Weismiller, also a veteran, CNLP, Sales Manager at Bissett Nursery. “By providing horticultural training to veterans and youth, Bissett is making a tangible impact on the students’ lives and growing the industry’s work force.”

A Long Island Army Veteran who wants to Lift others Up

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By Matthew Burrier, US Army Veteran

Above photo is of Matt Burrier at his command post in Iraq.  He is on the phone with the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) after a mortar attack, giving accountability of soldiers in the unit. 

I am the oldest of two children born in Sacramento, California. Adopted at the age of eight with my biological sister, we grew up in the Hill Country of Central Texas.  In 2006, I graduated high school and embarked on a journey into the United States Army.  My mother, fearful of me being another statistic in the growing wars, insisted on helping me choose my future career field.  Her choice won, as it usually does, and I enlisted as a Chaplain’s Assistant.  My primary responsibility was as a bodyguard since Chaplains do not carry weapons in combat.  I was also responsible for the logistics of the UMT or Unit Ministry Team and assisting the Chaplain in the performance of field services.  I was assigned to the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division and in 2008, we deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq.  The chaplain and I traveled across Northern Iraq quite often as our unit was spread across three different bases in the region.  We would also assist other area UMTs as needed.

In January of 2009, I experienced a deep loss.  Four of my friends had been killed overnight in a helicopter crash.  I struggled with this new reality that surrounded me.  I kept thinking it could be me next, but I tried to hide the pain I was feeling by focusing on the mission ahead of me.  One of our key projects was assisting in the renovation and reopening of a family cemetery located on one of our bases.  The cemetery was the resting place of ancestors of local villagers, who had not been permitted access to the cemetery in decades following the rising of Saddam Hussein.  Working with both Muslim and Christian leaders from the local population, as well as different units within the United States military, we were able to overhaul the entire cemetery and make it a proper final resting place that could be visited by the locals.  Reopening that cemetery to the public and seeing families kneel beside their ancestors for the first time in decades really gave me a sense of pride and even more of a love for helping others.

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Matt during Basic Training Graduation Day at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

When I returned home in October of 2009, I found out that life had changed for me.  I felt like everyone was against me, that no one understood me and so I began to turn down a dark path.  I was discharged 4 years and 2 days after I enlisted and returned to Texas to live with my parents.  I hated being under their rules, hated feeling confined with nowhere to go.  I lashed out against my parents and my sister.  I started to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.  I felt myself spiraling down until I decided enough was enough.  I decided to strike out on my own and escape what I thought were the problems in my life.

On a bus ride to New York City I befriended a man who came on in Atlanta.  He was an old school veteran.  He understood.  Once in New York, he sheltered me until I ended up being referred to the Northport Veterans Affairs Hospital.  As I spent the better part of the next year getting myself back on track, I began to reach out to local agencies for long term help.  United Veterans Beacon House was the first organization that stepped up to the plate and assisted me immediately with transitional housing and educational support.  Once I got myself stable and into my own housing, they helped me again by providing me employment in one of their residences.

I decided that I wanted to create a better chance for other veterans like me and that to do so, I would need to return to school.  As things were now getting better, my mode of transportation failed me.  I was at risk of losing everything I was working for.  United Beacon House reached out on my behalf and connected with United Way of Long Island, who was able to assist me in securing a vehicle so that I could keep up with my work and schooling.  Now, as I reach the end of my college career, United Way has given me an internship opportunity with “Mission United“,  an initiative that focuses specifically on veterans.  Through this program, I have not only learned so much about the career path I have chosen, but I have met truly inspirational people who are guided by the goodness inside of them.  I look forward to what each day brings me now and am open to all opportunities and life lessons.  I also learned one thing about myself.  No matter what happens, no matter how life treats you, there is always a hand ready to lift you up.  I have begun to focus my efforts on supporting other veterans in their transition from the military to civilian life so that, like United Veterans Beacon House and United Way of Long Island, one day, I can be the hand that helps another veteran find their way back.

MISSION UNITED is a critical program supporting United States military veterans and their families as they re-acclimate to civilian life. MISSION UNITED focuses on employment services, education, financial services, health and housing support. The need for these services is particularly significant on Long Island as we have over 135,000 veterans living in our communities, of whom over 4,700 have entered the service since September 11, 2001.