1996 BRUSH Program Alumni By: Amy Asaturyan
At 14 I was a little fire cracker, full of energy, ambition and on the hunt for my first job. When the GYA presented itself to me, I wasted no time submitting my application. Orientation felt like hours as we sat in a much too cold conference room inside Glendale City Hall. Here, we were lectured on gender, religious and racial sensitivity, and discussed words like “impeccable” as it related to quality of work. All of these were brand new concepts to the young me, and I listened intently. Almost 20 years later, I still carry those lessons, though at the time their significance was nothing more than a passing fancy.
I can’t quite recall what my title was when I was finally on the field. With an arsenal of gardening tools at our disposal, my team was bussed to various canyons and hills in Glendale where we worked in the blistering sun to prevent bush fires one stubborn weed at a time. I know what you’re thinking, terrible right? But it was honorable work and I was proud to be a part of it.
To be honest, the heat wasn’t so bad, we got plenty of breaks in the shade, unlimited ice water, and really, I think the job was only for a couple of hours a day. Most of it is a blur these days but some of it I can still recall today. I remember making new friends; a girl my age but somehow much older who taught me how to speak Pig Latin and the art of wearing lip-liner. I recall my team leader who would break a stick in half with his hands at the appropriate time to silently indicate that it was time to rest and hydrate. I reminisce about what teamwork really meant as we all ran for cover from a disturbed bee hive or kept a lookout for hidden garden snakes protecting each other every step of the way. In my memories still live the adventures, laughs and the recollection of all the growing up I did that summer.
Presently, I think I’m still as much of an ambitions fire cracker and I still use the skills I acquired that hot summer in 1996. The GYA was instrumental in shaping the kind of “impeccable” work ethic that has enabled me to be the successful professional that I am today. I have a profound love for Glendale and I hope that the youth of today takes advantage of the opportunities that this great City provides.
Before I had become aware of the GYA program, I was a 17 year old high school senior without a single clue of what I wanted to do with my future. Although I had earned excellent grades, constantly contributed in volunteer service, and participated in extracurricular activities, I still failed to acquire one thing: work experience. The summer prior to entering my senior year, I had applied for all kinds of jobs, desperately hoping to get hired somewhere; however, I had no luck. Once the school year began, the high school counselors announced the GYA program to students who were interested. Without hesitation, I enrolled in the program. After just a few weeks, I was placed at the City of Glendale Housing Department as a clerical worker. GYA guided me through every step of the way, from creating a resume to attaining a job interview. After being placed at the City for approximately 8 months, not only did I gain work experience, but I learned how to build and expand my network. Networking is key to a successful future and this program gave me the confidence to build it. Moreover, GYA’s placement also fortified my confidence, communication skills, and better prepared me to manage workloads in stressful and fast-paced environments. Shortly after my 8 months at the City, I was able to land a permanent part-time job outside of the program at a law firm as a legal assistant. Although I had no experience in the field of law, the firm was eager to help me acquire the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary for the job. I worked at the firm for 2 years while I attended community college and have recently left because I transferred to a UC school to work on my bachelor’s degree. If it wasn’t for the stepping stones that program set along the way for me, I never would have worked for the firm and most importantly, I wouldn’t have discovered what I was truly passionate about and what road I wanted to take towards my prospective career (Hint: I plan to pursue a law degree). After all these years, I have realized that enrolling in the GYA program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Why? Because I grew as a student, an employee, and most importantly, a person and I cannot emphasize enough the immense gratitude I feel towards GYA, its directors, coordinators, and mentors, for providing such amazing opportunities that can change student’s lives forever. Alex Rosas
I’m so thankful for the time that I spent as a GYA employee. I learned so much and met the kindest people. GYA did so much to help me when I had so many problems with my paperwork. I really appreciate what you and your team did for me. Narek
When I entered the program, I was considered a Homeless and Displaced youth. My parents had moved to Japan, I was staying with friends, and not doing well on an academic level. However, the GYA got me to where I am today. They helped me prevail through my hardship, got me on my feet, and gave me the skills to get to where I am today.
Today, I am proud to say, that with the help of GYA I am a working successfully at American Airlines, where I utilize my skills in Hospitality and Customer Service on a daily basis as a Cabin Attendant. Without Linda and Ida and Katrina, and all the staff at GYA, I might not be where I am today. (name undisclosed for privacy)
Matthew was referred to Glendale Youth Alliance from Disability Employment Initiative Program. This young man had numerous personal problems and barriers to employment. He was on probation, had type 1 diabetes, he had no work experience. Furthermore, his mother was going through cancer treatments. We enrolled Matthew in our Summer Youth Employment Program and placed him at Brand Park to work with light park maintenance duties. He really enjoyed field work, earned money desperately needed by his family and learned a lot from his colleagues. While in the program, Matthew had complications with his health. He was hospitalized for kidney failure as his blood sugar increased exponentially. When he came in to the GYA office, the staff took the time to advise him of holistic methods to control his blood sugar level. Within a few days, he reported that his blood sugar is under control as he started to use the recommended cinnamon in his daily diet. This was very exciting news for all of us at GYA. GYA staff also assisted Matthew with providing nutritious food items to his family. This staff member requested her Church Youth Group to purchase food and take it to Matthew’s house. They provided trunk loads of food items that will help him alleviate some of the financial burden he was going through. Also, this gesture made him feel special and more prepared to do well in the future. Matthew was provided a lot of services while in the GYA. He gained work experience, his morale and self confidence improved and most importantly is blood sugar is under control.