Providence, R.I. – When Julian was a program participant with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island, his goals were to go back to high school and get off drugs. Two years later, Julian finished high school, has a full-time job at a thrift store and most importantly, – April 26 marks two years since the 20-year-old has remained drug-free.
“My [YAP] Advocates were very understanding and patient,” Julian said, adding they helped him obtain a social security card so he could get a job. “They would help sit down with me to get myself on the right track and work with me on my goals.”
YAP is a national nonprofit located in 34 states and Washington, D.C. providing community-based alternatives to youth incarceration, residential care, and neighborhood violence. The YAP Providence County program works with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families which refers young people to the organization.
Julian was referred to YAP for substance abuse issues and was required by the court to complete three months in the program in order to have his drug case dropped. Julian said he first started doing drugs at age 14 and got off them at 18. Born in Texas, he was adopted by his grandmother and moved to Rhode Island with her when he was 2 years old.
“Julian has come a long way,” said YAP Providence County, R.I. Assistant Director Allen Leach. “In the beginning he was doing pretty badly. He wasn’t going to school at all but now he’s graduated from the program and is doing well.”
Leach was on the team of YAP staff and Advocates who worked with Julian. YAP Advocates are trained to empower program participants to see their strengths while connecting them and their families to wraparound services that include individualized educational, economic, and emotional tools to help them achieve their goals and re-set their lives.
Aside from his day job, Julian is an artist and makes music. His next goal is to get a car.
“He has come a long way from where he was and what he was going through to where he is now,” Leach said. “He is spiritual and is into crystals and that type of thing. He goes to work, goes to appointments, and still is on top of his future.”
“If it wasn’t for YAP, I probably would be dead or in jail; something drastic like that,” Julian added. “YAP is an amazing program. All of the staff are very understanding and helpful people. It’s nothing but positive energy to be around.”
Learn more about YAP by visiting yapinc.org. Follow the nonprofit on Twitter @YAPInc.