Walking up to a completely strange young person and successfully convincing him or her that going back to school or getting into a GED program is a good idea, is not an easy task for even the most seasoned youth workers. However, Barend got over 40 youth to come into the Worcester Youth Center to be tested for their basic skills level of academic achievement. Many of them entered the GED program at the Center to work towards a high school equivalency diploma.
Barend has been active at the Worcester Youth Center for the past three years. In addition to his outreach efforts as part of the Lifeline to Success program run with the Worcester Police Department, he has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in several other programs run at the Center. As a Health Outreach Worker (HOW) Team member, he was trained to make presentations and do peer counseling on issues related to reproductive health. As a Safe Products in the Neighborhood (SPIN) team worker, he did community demonstrations and advocacy work in the state house, and as a participant in the Urban Community Action Program for Teens (UCAPT) he worked with the neighborhood coalition to Save our Poolz. It is no wonder that Barend was named the Youth of the Year at the Worcester Youth Center’s Annual Meeting in March of 2009.
Barend entered Becker College, but he finds time to visit the Center where he continues as an inspiration to other youth.