One of the trainees participating in the YouthBuild KCK program was 5 years old when he saw his first murder in Juniper Gardens, the area where the YouthBuild KCK facility is located. After years of seeing such senseless violence, YouthBuild trainees show a range of emotions– apathy, defeat, depression, anger.
That was until their friend and fellow trainee, De’Andre Goodson was fatally shot on Dec. 16, 2015.
Immediately, feelings of sadness, worry and mourning took hold. Those feelings remain, more than a month later, but the trainees have turned that despair into a new purpose – the Goodson Leadership Fund.
After Goodson’s death, the YouthBuild trainees had a two-hour discussion that took on a tone of such seriousness, the YouthBuild staff simply listened and added support when necessary.
On that day, the trainees decided that they were community leaders. That the responsibility to end senseless violence in the community was largely their own.
“We own this community,” one trainee said. “The violence needs to stop.”
With all other trainees in agreement, the big question hanging in the air was “What can we do?” Because many of the young women and men suffer from the challenges of not completing their high school education in the traditional school setting, the discussion shifted to education, primarily the education of those younger than they are (ages 10-13).
“If we could work with these kids before they start making bad decisions like we did, I believe it’ll make all the difference in the world,” one trainee expressed. Another trainee quickly added, “They’ll listen to us faster than they will listen to you (referring to the staff members present).”
Thus, after encouragement from the YouthBuild KCK staff, the Goodson Leadership Fund was created.
The trainees determined the fund would initially assist with the immediate needs of De’Andre’s family, to help pay for a proper burial for their friend. With contributions to the fund from 12 selfless individuals, the Goodson Leadership Fund was able to cover all the costs of the funeral.
Now it’s time to take the trainees’ vision to the next level.
The trainees decided the best way to honor De’Andre Goodson was to establish an after school tutoring program, completely run by the trainees of YouthBuild KCK, to serve the young residents of Juniper Gardens and the surrounding community. The trainees sought and received logistical and other technical assistance in setting up their program from the YouthBuild KCK staff.
Conceptually, the tutoring program would meet once or twice per week, and young participants would receive supplemental support from trainees in basic content areas as reading, writing, and math. In addition, the trainees will serve as mentors and coaches for the young participants. YouthBuild KCK staffers will volunteer their time to supervise the program.
If these trainees’ commitment to this project is sign of what is to come, it will mean both security and safety for this community, as well as the preservation of De’Andre Goodson’s memory.
To offer assistance to the tutoring program or to contribute to the Goodson Leadership Fund please click here. Trainees, with guidance and oversight from YouthBuild staff, will determine how to spend money from the fund to support the program.
YouthBuild KCK is a program for low-income young people between the ages of 16-24 to work full-time for 9-12 months towards their GED or high school diploma while learning job skills by building affordable housing. The program’s vision is to educate and employ under-served young adults, positively engaging them in the rebuilding of their own lives and the communities around them.