The lobby was busy as the group arrived at City Hall.
City officials, police officers and community members milled in and out of a side room as our group entered the building.
It was a significant day.
Later that evening, the City of Columbia would be welcoming the public in for a moderated chat with candidates for the Chief of Police – but for now they were making preparations and having meetings.
We didn’t know it yet, but it was an important day for Job Point’s YouthBuild as well.
As they made their way across the noisy lobby into the peace of the empty City Council Chambers, a mixture of emotions played across the faces of the students. Some looked around nervously others seemed disappointed that they had to be there. Down the long center aisle, they marched to the very front and took their seats on the right side of the room.
Slowly, city officials began to pop in through the side door and take their place to the left and soon the students were greeted with a smile by the host of the event, Contact Center Manager, Stephanie Brown.
From the outside, it may have seemed like your run-of-the-mill field trip to City Hall, but for our group it was an important opportunity to learn not just how our government runs but what career tracks hold promise for their future.
Many of the students in the YouthBuild program come from a place of trauma and closed doors. But on this day, even if just for a moment, they were invited to sit in a place of hope and challenged to dream bigger than what their past has taught them to expect from life.
And that in a nutshell is our vision for YouthBuild – to give these bright, talented, ambitious young people the opportunity to dream bigger, to build something better and to recognize that they do have a bright future ahead of them – they just have to say “yes” to it.
We are so grateful to all of the city officials who took time out of their busy and significant morning to spend time with our students. They did more than just introduce the students to our City, they opened a door in their hearts to new possibilities. They shared their own journeys – the trials, the triumphs, the lessons – and encouraged the students to recognize their potential. Students were given the floor and encouraged to ask questions, share their own stories and have a dialogue about their vision for how the city can better serve its citizens.
By the end of the meeting, everyone was glad they had come and some students walked away with the hope of future opportunities to engage with the city and continue to share their vision.
Thank you to everyone who welcomed us with open arms and ears.
- Barbara Buffaloe, Mayor
- De’Carlon Seewood, City Manager
- Matthew Lue, Chief Financial Officer of the City of Columbia
- Carol Rhodes, Assistant City Manager
- D’Andre Thompson, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
- Sydney Olson, Public Information Officer
- Stephanie Brown, Contact Center Manager