Zymira’s story is the second in a bi-weekly series to showcase the impact proceeds from the Saint Paul’s Rummage Sale have made in Philadelphia. For more information on the outreach work at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, please contact Shara Dunham, Outreach Coordinator.
Ten months ago, during a three-month stay with her mother at St. Barnabas Mission, Zymira learned about the Episcopal Community Services Youth Center from a shelter employee. “They said it would be a good fit for me since I was the oldest kid in the shelter. They said to check it out and that it would benefit me … and I have been here since. I’m not really a sociable person, but when I got here, I felt comfortable to open up and talk about what I’ve been through … I just love the people.”
ECS’ Seeing Youth Succeed program (SYS) provides leadership development and employment preparation through a variety of hands-on projects, activities and workshops. It combines project-based learning, cognitive-behavioral therapy and vocational assessments for some of the city’s most under-resourced youth, aiming to break the cycle of poverty.
Through its projects, the center encourages collaboration and teamwork and teaches participants how to manage conflict before landing their first jobs. Zymira said, “We have our moments where we all disagree, but we all find a compromise to make decisions as whole group.”
SYS also helps youth identify career paths and goals based on their skills and interests, using the comprehensive online vocational assessment, CareerScope. As for Zymira, she said, “I want to be a family lawyer or a fashion designer … or maybe an author, because I have a crazy imagination.”
Zymira is currently in the eleventh grade, and for the most part, enjoys school: “it’s a decent learning environment, but there are some bad kids.” She prefers the Seeing Youth Succeed program and encourages her friends to come, too. “They help you with your future and it’s three hours on a Saturday, so get up and do something. You can actually meet friends … we are like one big family.”