June 1 - June 7, 2018

Three youths find opportunity in a leadership initiative

HOLYOKE - The premiere of Holyoke's Jan Carlos Rivera's video, made possible through the Sustainable Holyoke Youth Leadership Initiative, was a dream come true for the Holyoke youth and a first step toward his career as a budding filmmaker.

The premiere was held as part of SHYLI's Job Shadow Day last month at the Boston Museum of Science. The focus of Rivera's video was to show the devastation Puerto Rico suffered during Hurricane Maria and how Holyoke welcomed the survivors with open arms into the city. (View his film on YouTube: https://youtu.be/YFAvEQhme0I).

The viewing of Jan Carlos Rivera's movie.
"It was a great opportunity to premiere my video about the Puerto Rico disaster and how we helped all the people coming into Holyoke and making sure they were welcomed by us,'' he said.

After reviewing his video, he added, "If there's anything in this world that I really want is to be successful. The day of my Premiere I really felt that way. I can be successful and chase my dreams. I am so thankful to everyone who's ever been there and helped me realize. I appreciate everything and every chance I get. My dreams for film are in great vision.''

Rivera, along with Alex Diaz and Sky Gonzales - all of Holyoke - were part of the Sustainable Holyoke Youth Leadership Initiative. It's mission is to train young people to become leaders of their lives, their community and their world. SHYLI is a year-round program to educate and empower youth through training workshops: college field trips, career mentors, community service, and youth leadership.

During the Career Mentor Program, youth develop their first bios and headshots to include in their portfolios. They research career opportunities aligned with their dreams. This program leads to more motivated students; increased support; internships, summer jobs and college scholarships.

SHYLI is a local program of The Stone Soup Leadership Institute is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 1997. Its mission is to develop educational tools, provide technical assistance and leadership training for youth to become leaders of a sustainable world.

Rivera , Alex Diaz and Sky Gonzalez, of Holyoke, all participated in the Stone Soup Leadership Institute's 8th Annual Job Shadow Day. The reception was held at the Boston Museum of Science with Boston Commissioner William Morales.

Gonzalez said that when she applied to join the Stone Soup Leadership Institute, "I never could've guessed how far it would take me.'' As part of Job Shadow Day, Gonzalez shared her service project, a clothing drive for the Puerto Ricans arriving in Holyoke after Hurricane Maria.

Rivera's video showcased the groups efforts to help. "I felt like it was just a whole new beginning and I do expect many exciting things to come...'' Gonzalez said. 

Alexis Dias participated in an internship at Barrios Unidos, a youth violence prevention program in Santa Cruz, California.

"Growing up you hear people say you can learn something new every day. Before, I thought it was cliché. Now that I've had my own experiences I can tell you that it's true,'' Dias said. 

"Every day, hour, minute and second are inspiring moments working and living with the Barrios Unidos community Santa Cruz California. It's been an honor to attend important meetings with Nane Alejandrez. I have learned so much from him. The Barrio Unidos Production team is training me step-by-step how to professionally silk screen on clothing and bags.''

Sustainable Holyoke Youth Leadership Initiative