Krystal’s Story

Krystal Melendez Figueroa: YouthBuild AmeriCorps Student



I was 14 years old when I started high school and dropped out when I was 15. I grew up seeing negativity, like people selling drugs and people shooting at others, etc. I was always a quiet child. I used to get bullied for being overweight on a daily basis, but I never spoke up for myself. Since, I never gave my mom a hard time like my siblings did I always told her I was adopted. But when I was in the 8th grade, I was  no longer a quiet child. I spoke up for myself when I was getting bullied; which is when I started giving others attitude, defended myself by fighting, cutting class, and even starting arguments with teachers just to get out of class and leave school.

Before I moved here to Reading and started YouthBuild, I lived in Philadelphia for 11 years. I noticed that cutting class and fighting at school was not the right thing for me so I just dropped out of school. I wanted to work; I wanted to make money. However, I realized laziness was actually the reason I dropped out. Two and half years went by without attending school and in that time I only worked two jobs that lasted only a month or two. When I was no longer in school and when I was no longer working, I became even more lazy and started to feel lost. I didn’t have anyone to say “Krystal, you need to go to school. You need to get yourself together because without school you are going to be nothing more than what you are now.” 

Learning to use the wet saw
Learning to use the wet saw

In my house, I felt like I made the rules and my own choices. So, I wasted my time hanging out with friends, smoking weed and cigarettes, and partying every weekend. Coming home whenever I wanted to. In March 2016, someone called children services on my mom because my brother and me were not going to school. My mother believed that we would be taken away because it had been two years since we had been going to school. We moved from Philadelphia to Reading shortly after. I tried Reading High but it was huge and I  knew I wouldn’t graduate because I had completed a half semester of high school before.

So I was recommended by my cousin to join YouthBuild and currently in YouthBuild. I attended the YouthBuild Mental Toughness July 5-22nd, 2016 and was accepted into the program. The reason I joined YouthBuild was because I felt like there were a lot of open doors such as learning OSHA 10, MC3, direct care worker, and the basics of construction. I feel like YouthBuild turned me in my path instead of walking backwards. They actually turned me and me walked against the path I had created myself. What I’ve gained so far being here at YouthBuild is how to communicate better, how to do a resume/cover letter. I have received certificates for direct care worker, basic

Ready for the career fair!
Ready for the career fair!

blueprint, and MC3; also received CPR and OSHA 10 safety training.

I will totally recommend a friend or family member to join YouthBuild. It is a life changer with no cost. Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve volunteered for, I was doing so my family and friends could be proud of me. I will close with a few quotes that remind me of YouthBuild.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success.”- Henry Ford

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”- Winston Churchill

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”- Napoleon Hill