Youth Build Workers Committed To Recovery - - The News for South Mississippi

Youth Build Workers Committed To Recovery

Before the building can begin, storm damaged remains must be removed. A team of workers from Youth Build was tackling that task Monday morning at a storm damaged house on 29th Avenue in Gulfport.

Once the slab is cleared, construction can begin on a brand new house. This Youth Build work crew is among several teams sharing a significant commitment to hurricane recovery.

"Our goal is to build 300 homes that was destroyed by the hurricane," said team leader Marlo Whitt.

Youth Build is a program aimed at helping disadvantaged youth overcome their own difficult circumstances.

"It's designed to pull in young people between the ages of 16 and 24, from low-income communities, without a GED. All these guys here, they graduated that program and accomplished their GED. And they got a life skill, which is construction," Whitt explained.

"It was my passion to come down here when I found out about it," said Juan Carlos Surita.

He comes from a tough neighborhood in New York City and credits Youth Build for giving him an opportunity, although he wasn't always sold on the program.

"I went to check it out. At first I thought it was garbage. But one thing led to another and I ended up staying with it, going through ten months of program then graduating with my GED," said Surita.

The program helped Mark Davis learn a trade and work through anger management issues. The California resident was anxious to apply for the Katrina recovery assignment.

"I thought I was only going to have a one in a million chance of going, but I signed up anyway and I got a phone call and here I am," he said.

In all, nearly 400 Youth Build workers are committed to the one year assignment, sharing their newly learned skills to help those in need.

As one young man put it: "I'm here for a greater cause than myself." 

By Steve Phillips

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