The Young Men’s Committee (YMC) is an exceptional group of clients under 25 from the Phoenix House Career Academy in Brooklyn. These young men support each other and maintain positive attitudes in order to stay healthy and substance-free. Their energy and enthusiasm are inspiring to our clients, staff members, and community as they continue to help out at the Academy and participate in various outreach projects.
Group membership is not automatic; it is earned. The group’s President, Vice President, and Secretary serve as role models for the other members, observing their work closely to determine who will receive a coveted YMC insignia polo shirt. Members must remain engaged, attend meetings, exhibit positive behavior, and present new ideas and suggestions to the group. They meet weekly to discuss concerns and feelings and to create a new sense of belonging within the treatment community. YMC participation heightens these young men’s awareness and improves their social skills as they learn what it takes to lead by example.
Sharon Alexander, Senior Counselor at the Academy, is the the main facilitator and guiding light of the YMC. She works closely with the group members, encouraging them to strive for excellence. Herman Lozada, Managing Director of the Phoenix House Career Academy, also serves as a special mentor and leadership role model. With the help of these staff members, the young men of the YMC have become valued leaders and have succeeded beyond their expectations.
The YMC participated in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative at the Harlem’s Children’s Zone, worked on the public art mural at P.S. 102 in Brooklyn, braved the winter months to count the homeless on New York City streets, and served food at homeless shelters throughout the city. The YMC also partners with the AmeriCorps Program at Phoenix House for many local community events. Recently, the Young Men’s Committee gave a special presentation at Phoenix House’s annual Clinical Excellence Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan; this event was attended by all clinicians and Directors from our programs nationwide.
For these and their many other initiatives, the Young Men’s Committee was recently acknowledged with a commendation letter and plaque from the Association of Vocational Rehabilitation in Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (AVRASA), in recognition of “what they do and their overall growth and maturity.”
Teamwork and giving back to the community are front and center for our Young Men’s Committee as they continue to set an example and renew their own self-esteem. These are our leaders of tomorrow.