On the Road to Independence

DSC_1383_0United Way of Long Island through its ‘Switching Gears’ program, has provided a recent YouthBuild Long Island graduate Christopher with his own transportation.

The program, funded by the generosity of the Island Outreach Foundation, enables students the opportunity to own an affordable and reliable pre-owned vehicle, at no cost.  Eligible students who meet specific criteria must write a one-page essay describing why they deserve to receive the vehicle, and their long-term plan to maintain and care for it physically and financially.

The program came at the perfect time for Christopher, who works as a Process Operator at Estee Lauder and has to travel the extensive distance from his home in Wyandanch to his job in Melville. Christopher has held this position after earning his high school equivalency diploma and graduating from YouthBuild with the Directors Award in 2016. Christopher’s experiences with YouthBuild allowed him to secure a career path with the potential for growth and the possibility to climb the corporate ladder toward financial stability. The commute to work, however, presented problems for Christopher, as it was not only time consuming, but he was also at the mercy of unreliable public transportation.

“Relying on public transportation or taxis made it difficult to get to work on time, and my job has been at risk before because I had been late,” said Christopher. “I am incredibly appreciative of this car. It’s such a relief to have a dependable means to get to work every day.”

“There is no reason that a young person with the drive to succeed should fail simply because they cannot get to and from work,” said Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “We are proud to provide Christopher with this car – he deserves to have the peace of mind knowing he can earn a living and support himself without the added stress of inconsistent or costly transportation.”

Participants in the program receive a warranty that includes yearly maintenance on the car and membership to United Way’s ‘Car Club’, which helps to educate the recipients on how to care for and maintain their vehicle and provides access to supportive services and referrals.

To learn more about YouthBuild Long Island visit http://www.unitedwayli.org/youthbuildli.

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