Five summers ago, Rashid signed up for Red Hook Initiative’s (RHI) Middle School program. Since that summer, when Rashid was 12, he has participated in RHI’s programs year round. Like hundreds of youth from Red Hook working toward a high school diploma, Rashid has taken home a bi-weekly paycheck from RHI for the past four years as a Youth Leader. Rashid utilized mediation skills as a Peer Counselor, provided nourishing food for his peers as a Teen Chef, and used his writing skills to highlight issues of importance for Red Hook youth through a publication, “Zine.”
Graduating high school was not always a guarantee for Rashid, who relied on RHI for academic and social support every day after school. This summer, Rashid worked with RHI staff as a Program Assistant, to keep high school youth on track towards their academic and personal goals. 120 high school and young adult participants found employment through RHI this summer, and Rashid helped make this possible. Next week, he will head off to SUNY Plattsburgh, beginning his freshman year as a first-generation college student. Rashid says, “RHI opened so many doors for me.” While he packs for college, Rashid took a moment to share advice for the RHI Youth Leaders who will follow in his tracks.