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Youth Agencies Hear from Their Program Participants

Youth Agencies Hear from Their Program Participants

“I used to view my future through binoculars, but now I feel like it’s in the palm of my hand.”

On April 20, we invited 11 organizations that serve youth to come to Middletown to accept their foundation grants—something we frequently do. What was special about this grant presentation was that many of them brought along some of the young people that participate in their programs.

I know I speak for all of my Liberty colleagues who attended when I say these students’ testimonials were inspirational. One after another, students from age 6 through their teens came to the podium and told us that our nonprofit partners were making a big difference in their lives.  Every student who spoke touched us in his or her own individual way.  If we ever wondered whether our grants were having a real impact (and we have), we got our answer from these youngsters:  Yes, they do!

I’d like to share with you the remarks of one young woman, Genesis Cubilette, who spoke eloquently about HigherEdge, the program she had attended for several years.

“I was asked to talk about what HigherEdge means to me; however, I’d instead like to tell you what it means to my mother. After chattering over this topic for a few minutes, she said something that succinctly captured what I believe is the consciousness behind HigherEdge’s purpose as an organization.  She said, ‘I’ve worked extremely hard to do good for others in my life, looking to be paid back in good karma—not for me, but for my children.  Every time you come home to tell me that a staff member from HigherEdge has helped you with anything from resume building to clarifying a question from an application, I feel like I’ve been cut a big fat check.  My children have people in their lives genuinely helping them with the things I am not mindful of, just like I’ve helped others in my own life.  That is a blessing.  That is what meaning life has.’

“I don’t know if people at HigherEdge are as aware of the specific kind of impact they have on students and their families as they do in reality. Their job is essentially to gift low-income first-generation students with a future that is out of their reach as far as resources go.  Before joining this program, I couldn’t tell you the difference between an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree.  By the time I would have gotten into college, I would have walked into immediate debt due to my ignorance of the importance of loans and scholarships—and let’s not even touch upon the topic of professionalism, or email and letter etiquette.

“Today, I am a freshman in college with as many credits as a sophomore student. I have zero debt.  As I walked on campus for the first time, I was immediately offered a job because of my outstanding resume.  My learned professionalism has enabled me to build relationships with professors that have brought me to look forward to ending this semester with a 4.0 GPA, and I am currently waiting to hear back from Ivy League schools that I plan on transferring to this fall.

“I used to view my future through binoculars, but now I feel like it’s in the palm of my hand.   HigherEdge has helped me place it there.  Now, going back to what HigherEdge means to me, all I ask of you is to envision my future before and after joining this remarkable organizations….or for that matter, imagine through the eyes of my mother what lottery she has just won.”

All we can say to Genesis and the other youth who spoke is “thank you.” You made our day…and we look forward to the day when you all will be making a brighter future for our world.

–Sue Murphy