June Non-Profit: Worcester Youth Center

By Dani Babineau

Unleash your inner child at Redemption Rock!

This month, we’re supporting the Worcester Youth Center (WYC) with our tipping for charity program. And not only are we donating 100% of our tips in June to WYC, but on June 23, we’re hosting the Worcester Youth Center 25th Anniversary Fundraiser in our taproom.

We’re incredibly excited for this field day-themed event. You can try your hand at a variety of nostalgic field day games, win prizes, and enter raffles for beautifully curated baskets - all to raise funds for the WYC. And our friends at Noms will be serving up summer flatbreads.

We’re also brewing a special beer for the event - definitely stay tuned for all the details on that.

But more importantly, we’re excited to support the Worcester Youth Center (WYC) because it’s a truly wonderful local organization that has done some amazing work in the city. The organization helps give young people the tools they need to be successful adults - through education, art, and relationship building.

To hear more about the great work the WYC does in Worcester, we spoke to Samuel Martin, executive director of the Worcester Youth Center. Read on to learn more:

What’s the mission of the Worcester Youth Center and what does the organization do?

The Worcester Youth Center is an educational, recreational, and social facility for youth between the ages of 14 and 24. It is considered a "safe haven" for the young people of Worcester. Its mission is to provide a place where young people can build lasting, positive changes in their lives, and this is accomplished by the center seeking resources, collaborations, and opportunities that help young people to realize their full potential, sharpen skills, and enable them to become vital, responsible, and contributing members of society.

Why is WYC's mission important to the Worcester area?

WYC's mission is important to the Worcester area because it supports a youth population facing poverty, living with trauma, and dealing with vulnerable housing situations. Some of the most at-risk youth in the City of Worcester are actively participating in Worcester Youth Center activities. Many of our members live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, physically deteriorating surroundings, a shortage of affordable housing and areas where crime, drugs, and gang activity abound.

The Center attracts a diverse clientele, including Latino, African-American, White, and Asian youths. Many of them face barriers to work and school, including low academic success, foster care/juvenile justice involvement, homelessness, teen pregnancy, disability, and substance use and dependency, and live in families that routinely experience economic hardship.

What has WYC accomplished that you’re most proud of?

I’m glad to say that we have a number of successes that we can be proud of.

In 2017, WYC demolished a vacant building that stood on our property unused for years. Upon removing the eyesore, the area is safer and aesthetically pleasing with great street views into the Beaver Brook Park.

More recently, we raised $300K to renovate our kitchen, dance room, and recording studio. Construction is slated to start in later this month.

Finally, the Worcester Youth Center is part of the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative - and together, we’ve had an impact on reducing youth violence in the City over the past several years. In 2019, the Youth Center was awarded a two-year contract of $800K from the MA Department of Public Health to focus on Gun Violence Prevention among youth. This is an opportunity to further our work and provide resources youth in need of services, including job training and mental health services.

How might donations from Redemption Rock customers help WYC in the future?

The WYC's motto is that it's not just a place to go, but a place to go further. Donations from Redemption Rock customers will go towards developing creative leadership programming throughout the school year, providing young people with valuable work experience through a summer job, providing nightly transportation for the youth, providing healthy meals, covering the cost of high school equivalency examinations, and day-to-day operations of the center.

Does WYC have any upcoming events that people should know about?

The Field Day Event at the taproom is just one of our 25th Anniversary events! Additionally, on June 29, we’re holding our 25th Anniversary Celebration & Community Cookout at 326 Chandler Street from 11 am - 4 pm.

Tickets for the Worcester Youth Center 25th Anniversary Fundraiser at Redemption Rock are available now at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4242454.