Testimonials & Success Stories

Open Letter of Encouragement

Success Story - Taurean Duncan
If life were presented to you packaged with a nutritional facts label, I believe the ingredient you’d see the most of would be challenges. I honestly feel that the challenges a person faces in their life will not only define their success but also their character as an individual. “Life for me hasn’t been a crystal stair.” Difficult circumstances I’ve dealt with may not resemble those of an average challenge one might face. I didn’t grow up as a problem child in fact I rarely had behavioral issues but at the end of the day I’m human and I’ve made mistakes along the many roads that I’ve traveled thus far. I find it ironic to be writing about a success story based off personal challenges because I’ve come to cope with the fact that my constant yearn for success without a solid plan of action was a challenge in itself. In fact, it always left me feeling as though I was bouncing around unable to provide myself with a strong reliable foundation because of my interest in a wide array of subjects. When it all came down to it I knew that my biggest challenge was not being able to commit to anything whether personal, academic, and even in relationships. I probably wouldn’t have committed to the YouthBuild program if it weren’t for somebody else opening my eyes to the opportunity.
It was actually my girlfriends’ mom at the time that told me a little about the program. What she said was, “Taurean call this number and ask to speak to Arlene Connelly. I met her at a sickle cell event and she told me they were recently awarded a grant for construction.” Now at the time of this occurrence I was living in my mother-in-law’s house and I barely had a job because I was working retail and the hours were up and down. When she told me about the program I automatically looked at it in a negative perspective thinking man, she’s just throwing anything at me because I’m in her house and I don’t have a reliable source of income to help with bills. I also thought she was trying to make me enter some long drawn out program that I probably won’t even like. Yet I knew that she cared about me, and the well-being of the family I have with her daughter. So out of respect I researched the program. What really pushed me and made me truly consider participating in the program was the fact the description stated I would earn my GED, something I was unable to commit to prior. Receiving my GED was something I kept putting off for quite some time. I knew that I didn’t graduate high school because I decided to slack off at the last minute during my senior year for excessively skipping class, fighting, or just simply not showing up. I also knew that by not obtaining my diploma I had closed many doors on myself. I wanted and needed that GED! Upon enrolling in this program I’ve both learned and witnessed in action different aspects of the program curriculum taking place. I’ve never really took it into consideration how strong motivation can be and at the same time it doesn’t always have to be in the form of words or dialect. Just an active presence. I’m proud of myself for both committing to obtain my GED and actually seeing in to fruition; but most importantly for paving the way and showing my peers that yes, it’s possible! Sometimes it’s difficult to see something that you consider to be far away and I for one felt that GED was a long ways from me being that I had been out of school so long. Yes, I’m pretty sure many individuals have said to themselves I’m going to attain my GED but I can bet now that the picture is a little clearer when you can see that it’s really possible! There was no strings attached, you’ll get out what you put in if you’re serious. To me, that has leadership written all over it! Showing your people “look, I did it, it’s possible, now it’s your time.” All without having to say a word.
After obtaining the GED I was probably excited for maybe two days because reality set back in reminding me that this isn’t the time to celebrate. This was something I should’ve taken care of a long time ago and that I needed to keep the momentum going. Another reason why I ended up at the OIC Youth Build program was because I heard they specialized in helping people who had been arrested and were having a hard time passing the background check portion of the interviewing process.
In fact that was the main reason for my continuation of denials. I basically gave up on the “job hunt” because I realized that all the jobs that actually were what I would consider to be decent and would provide me with stability wouldn’t hire me. I had been turned down a lot. I had that mindset that the only type of job that I could get hired for, 9 times out of 10 was going to be a dead-end job that I’d probably get bored with easily because of the lack of passion from me. On July 22, 2015, I woke up feeling really out of it and was just in a negative mood right out of bed because I knew I was slacking in life and things could be a whole lot better. It was to the point where I hadn’t even done my laundry from lack of motivation and all my Youth Build shirts were soiled. So I left that morning in bad spirits and out of uniform. Being a part of the OICSFL Youth Build program never presents you with the opportunity to just sit and dwell on your misery because the atmosphere is the complete opposite. I’ve grown to share bonds with the people of this program whether staff or peers, to the point where they can see or feel that a person isn’t acting like themselves. People actually care and see you as an individual with potential and will go out their way to make sure your holding it together or even just to lend an encouraging word letting you know better days are up ahead and just have to keep walking. There’s a higher power that has strategically placed me exactly where I need to be in this moment of my life because for once I have something to commit to, I have people surrounding me that want nothing more than to pour into me so that I see the potential in myself, the very person that I doubt from time to time.
I find it so crazy that I was asked to write this success story today, July 22nd when that same morning I woke up with negative energy and even went to programming without my YB shirt on but the God I serve has a very strong sense of humor! I randomly was offered a position with fulltime hours perfectly fitting into my schedule. I left early from OIC to go to the location with intentions on filling out the application which in return would result in an interview. However they gave me an interview on the spot, ending with them giving me the position asking to start that same day and moment! After how negative I’ve been because of my life circumstances it helped me remember that God is an on time God! It may not be on your time, but best believe it will be the RIGHT time. The best advice that I myself can give another person based on my trials and tribulations would be to trust God. He has your back and knows your best interest but at the same time trust the process. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach the finish line. What matters is the fact that you made it!
Taurean M. Duncan
OIC Youth Build Cohort 2