Adlin Villalba
Just two years ago Adlin Villalba, a single mother, saw no future for herself. She had not finished high school and had a felony conviction which was making it nearly impossible for her to get a job. Often, employers wouldn't even look at her application.

Stimulus in Action: YouthBuild

  • YouthBuild in MA received $2.1 million

  • Provides teens with education, hands-on training and informal counseling and mentoring

  • 300 youth in MA benefitted

To make matters worse, Villalba's mother - with whom Villalba and her kids were living - moved to Florida. Villalba received an apartment under Section 8 housing but her possibilities seemed very limited and her outlook was bleak.

"Not being able to do things for my kids was really frustrating," says Villalba.

Everything changed for Villalba the day she happened to be walking down a street and saw a sign for the YWCA Youth Build Springfield Program inviting young people in for GED and job training. "I had dropped out of school, I didn't have a job and I thought maybe this is for me," she says. "Maybe this is my chance."

It was.

Villalba was accepted into the Youth Build program and there she finished her

Adlin Villalba and Friends
GED and a construction skills training course as well as a life skills course, a leadership development course, her OSHA certificate, First Aid and CPR. As part of the program, Villalba says she the opportunity to do a community service project painting an elderly woman's house and, she says, "it was such a rewarding experience."

But it was the stimulus program that set Villalba up for life. Youth Build got stimulus funding for its Summer Youth Employment program and Villalba was able to participate in that. She got a job with Kevin Dowe, a private contractor, through the Western Mass Development Collaborative, which connects subcontractors and contractors with young people seeking paid work experience.

Adlin Villalba and Friends
To Villalba's delight, at the end of the summer Dowe hired her as a permanent full-time worker which is where she is currently working. "I never thought I would be in the place I am today," says Villalba. "I am so proud of myself and grateful to the help of others. The best is when you don't have to depend on anyone else but yourself."

For Villalba, who says that she is the only support her three kids have right now, becoming independent was crucial. "I was in a lot of situations where I thought I would never make it through but my main focus now is my kids. I'm the only one for my kids." she says. "The stimulus funding is a big help to young people, especially with today's economy. I love my job and have really gained experience that I never thought I would have," she adds