Charity Chat: Building Houses, Rebuilding Lives
By CAROLINE BRENNAN
Created in 2004 to help troubled youth in Mexico’s marginal and troubled communities, “Jóvenes Constructores de la Comunidad” (JCC) is a nonprofit that matches Mexican youth from abusive homes with construction projects in their respective communities in a effort to improve their family environments. The JCC successful model helps Mexican youths who have little formal schooling and who often live in violent communities acquire basic training and sets them on a course with life skills that can elevate their socioeconomic status.
JCC National Director José Ramón Garrido Susacasa told Pulse News Mexico that the JCC currently operates in fours Mexican cities: Toluca, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and Mexico City.
“These areas have some of the biggest potential for change,” he said, since all four have high incidences of violence, drug use and delinquency.
Garrido Susacasa explained that the young people chosen to participate in the platform usually share a common profile of having no high school diploma and being between age 18 and 29. They also tend to live in violent, underdeveloped urban communities that leave them little career options.
Both male and females can apply to join the JCC platform.
Often coming from troubled and broken family homes, Garrido Susacasa said that these young people frequently suffer from anxiety, depression and a lack of self-confidence, all debilitating factors that make them less likely to break free from a cycle of self-destructive.
The JCC visits impoverished neighborhoods within the four cities and presents motivational talks on the benefits of joining the organization, such as employment opportunities on the completion of the JCC training program. The organization also fosters the “emotional wellbeing” of these young people by providing supplementary courses on life skills such as anger management.
The first step in the process of joining the JCC platform for all applicants is to undergo a battery of psychological tests to see if they are able to participate emotionally. Those who pass will then embark on an eight-month training program, and upon completion of that training, the JCC helps the youths find paid work in Mexico’s construction, sales, beauty and hospitality industries. Each platform cycle, 40 applicants are chosen in each of the cities where the JCC operates.
During their training, the JCC trainees work Monday through Friday,. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Their training starts with an obligatory monthlong construction job in their respective cities, which Garrido Susacasa said helps “teach them the values of tolerance and hard work.”
Later, they move to the next stage of their formation, during which for three months they are given various classes depending on their professional goals. These classes include sales, food catering, customer service and other skills.
At the end of their training, the JCC apprentices receive an official diploma. Their last four months are spent fine tuning their new skills and follow-up at their new jobs.
The JCC program has an impressive 80-percent retention rate of trainees who stick with the platform until they find a paid job.
The organization’s model of helping to transform an often forgotten segment of Mexican society into young professionals has been so successful that it has garnered a string of corporate sponsors, including CitiBanamex, Cinemex, FlexFoundation and Nacional Monte de Piedad.
The JCC is always looking for donations of used laptop computers, as well as mentors to give motivational talks online in an effort to show these young people that they are not alone in a society that needs them.