Allan, IT Support Manager, NYC Mission Society
What would my life have been like without Mission? I can’t even think about it. I mean, I was 14 when I started in the Summer Youth Employment Program and I’m 32 now so we’re talking about half my life. My first job was working with Sharada (currently the Mission Society’s SVP of Finance and Administration). After the program was over the CFO said, “Would you like to work after school? $7.50 an hour.” At that age that was a decent amount of money! When that expired, I worked after school at Minisink doing maintenance. When we’d have weekend parties in the gym we’d roll out the plastic stuff to cover the floor…yep, that’s how I started.
I was hesitant to have my own SYEP interns because I didn’t want to babysit. But I was nostalgic, I guess, because I was literally on that other end 20 years ago. I just felt like, “I’m finally in a position to give back.” Having a job is extremely important for young people: you have money in your pocket, you have somewhere to be at a certain time so it doesn’t allow you to get in trouble. We stay in touch, and it’s good to be their mentor. You need people that believe in you, mentors. As a coach I really like to tell kids, “You can make 10,000 good decisions but it just takes one bad decision to ruin your entire life.” Thanks to the mentors I had at Mission, I didn’t make that one mistake. They gave me the confidence to keep pushing because, obviously you don’t want to let your parents down, but now you don’t want to let these other people down, too. All the support and guidance I got here helped me stay straight and fly right.