ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — A program in Erie county hopes to assist at-risk young adults, residing in the county.
It is to re-enter participants into the community as contributing members to society through training and education.
"At the time, I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, figure out my next steps," YARP participant Promise Abernathy said.
"I thought why not give it a chance and see what it's about. I ended up liking it so I just stuck with it," Abernathy said. "Somehow, I ended up receiving one of those[pamphlets] and my mom told me about. So, I thought why not give it a chance and see what it's about. I ended up liking it so I just stuck with it."
Through YARP, Abernathy is now on track to enroll in a job readiness program.
"The members, for 12 months, do a short-term certification track," Vauhn-Dane Murry PathStone Young Adults Re-entry regional administrator said. "They can take up welding, automotive, human services, teachers assistant," "Members who already have their high school diploma, already have their GED and the partnership that we actually have is through SUNY-ECC."
YARP is one of two programs under the PathStone umbrella, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and Employment and Training Administration. The second program, Young Adult Re-entry (YAR) program.
"We're doing the hard work, we're doing the resume building. We're also setting these members up to get their high school diploma, to get their GED," Murray said.
Regional administrator, Vauhn-Dane Murray said, to be eligible, clients must be 18 to 24 years old, involved in the criminal justice system (on probation or through the court system) and live in Erie County.
Murray said, "This program is such a vital need because we are here to decrease the rate of recidivism."
"Just do it. If you're scared to do something, you just have to do it while you're scared. I'll say trust your power. There is nothing that you can't do. Baby steps. You gotta scrawl before you could walk. You gotta crawl before you could run. You gotta run before you can fly," Abernathy said.
The three-year-old program started months before the pandemic. It has not fully taken off, but with the help of the Service Link Stop (SLS) and referrals from the Buffalo Police Department, they can reintegrate more at-risk young adults into society.
"They provide us with the pamphlets, some educational materials. When we do our educational programs, when we're knocking at the doors or of those at-risk individuals, those prone to gun violence, gang violence, we provide that material to them as a way to get job training, as a way to get a path to their education, a GED program, anything out of what they are doing. Anything out of what they are doing that's got them in the criminal justice system," Buffalo Police Department deputy commissioner, Joseph Gramaglia said.
Murray said, "You can be just who you are and we can teach you interpersonal skills that you need to have a good relationship in society, but understand nothing is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with your presentation. You just had bad influences, negative influences."