Our Voices

Our Voices

Catherine Gillespie, Volunteer for JAS YouthBuild

“I get to work with students to build relationships. I love the 10-15 minute breaks where I get to have personal conversations with the students to understand their family life and the challenges they are facing.” – Catherine Gillespie Every now and then, JAS is fortunate to have some wonderful volunteers from all walks of
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Messay Engidawork, JAS Rental Resident and Biomedical Program Graduate

Messay and her husband have lived at Just-A-Start’s Rindge Tower for seven years. Their home was Ethiopia, filled with warm memories, but little opportunity. Their first step was to come to the U.S. and start a family. With that came dreams and responsibility. Their journey has been productive; Messay graduated from the JAS Biomedical Careers
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Antonio Cruz, Housing Services Client

When everyone works together and helps each other out, the world is a beautiful place. Antonio is so proud of his new apartment at 22 Water Street in Cambridge, and was delighted to show off his new place. His affordable, secure apartment – and the happy smile on his face – is a result of
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Brenda Comeau, Data and Program Coordinator, Biomedical Careers Program

A career of commitment, caring, and giving back… Brenda Comeau always puts her family first – always has and always will. It’s the way her mother and father raised her, growing up in this area. She also has a very strong work ethic; she has worked since she was 15 years old. She worked through
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Kaisha Mercado, JAS YouthBuild Graduate

Kaisha came to JAS YouthBuild during a turbulent time in her life with hopes of turning things around. Watch her video to learn more. Special Thanks to CCTV for producing this video for JAS as  a part of the Nonprofit Resource Exchange program! We couldn’t have made such a great video to share Kaisha’s stoty
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Jennifer Ramsey, Just-A-Start Resident

Coming home… Jennifer Ramsey is “born and raised in Central Square, Cambridge”, as she puts it – as were her parents and her grandparents. Now, her son is the 4th generation of her family to be brought up and attend school in this part of Cambridge – the same elementary school Jennifer attended! Jennifer and
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John Altidor, Case Manager, JAS YouthBuild and former Career Connection and Summer Youth Enrichment Program Participant

John Altidor’s parents came to Cambridge from Haiti in 1997, when he was 9 years old. John faced challenges adjusting to school in the U.S., and he wasn’t able to do as well as he wanted academically. In eighth grade, a career counselor told John about Just-A-Start’s programs for academic support and career assistance, and
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Kayla Troche, 2016 Biomedical Careers Program Graduate

Kayla’s passion is science, and she’s also good at math – which made the Just-A-Start Biomedical Careers Program a perfect fit for her. She had started her college education at Framingham State College as a biology major, with the hope of becoming a wildlife biologist. She transferred to Bunker Hill Community College but had to
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