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Building a Better Life

Meet Ashley, a resident of Wyandanch, 2015 graduate of United Way of Long Island’s YouthBuild Long Island, and current union-trained carpenter. Although she is living a successful and self-reliant life today, her life has not always been so bright.

At the age of 14, Ashley dropped out of school and soon after ended up in a juvenile facility for troubled teens. A series of bad choices led to her spending three years and eight months in detention. While in the system, she often thought of how her life could be better, and how to make those dreams a reality. She knew that she was better than the life she had been living, but did not even know what that better life looked like. She did know that the first step toward a new life was changing her attitude and outlook.

Ashley returned home determined to make a positive change. She started by mending her relationship with her mother, and then she joined YouthBuild Long Island. She came to YouthBuild with a chip on her shoulder, but when she found herself surrounded by a staff and classmates who showed a genuine concern, she thrived. She saw her own potential.

Since then, Ashley has obtained her TASC Diploma, and received her Culinary Arts Certification from Western Suffolk BOCES Adult Career & Technical Education (Wilson Tech). Additionally, she interned at Apwest Mechanical, Inc. where she worked as an apprentice on more than 40 buildings in New York City, she was a responsible crew leader for HVAC testing, and based upon an outstanding recommendation from Apwest was then hired by the Long Island Progressive Coalition (Power Up). Now, Ashley is proudly part of the Carpenters Local Union 290 working alongside experienced craftsmen and perfecting her craft.

Ashley chose to turn her life around for the better, and realized that nothing good came from blaming others for her problems. Instead of making excuses as to why she cannot, she found reasons as to why she can and is now living the life she’s always deserved.