Recently we had the opportunity to talk to former KHCC participant, Yessy Alvarez, while he was home from college on summer vacation.
Please introduce yourself and give a little background about yourself including your role at KHCC.
My name is Yessy Alvarez. I'm a college student and I just finished my first year. My first role at KHCC was as a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) member and then after a year I became a junior staff member. My role as a junior staff member was to assist the staff in any activity or any specific event that KHCC runs. We mainly plan a lock in, community giveback during the holidays, and run After School programs like Helping Hands and Reading Buddies.
"THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT MAKE KHCC SPECIAL, BUT FOR ME IT'S LIKE A SECOND HOME."
How did you initially get involved with KHCC?
I live right down the block. So, after school my step-brother used to come here before I came from the Dominican Republic, so he was like "Oh, just come with me instead of staying home," so I was coming into the gym hanging out as a regular member when I was around 13 years old. After that I just got involved and the following year I joined the YLC.
What is your most meaningful or favorite memory involving KHCC?
I think my favorite day was actually my first day. Since I didn't know English at all, I was walking around like a zombie, like, where am I going, and Jessica (our Teen Center Director) comes up out of nowhere and says "Hi" to me. She was talking to me in English, so I didn't know how to respond, but then she started talking to me in Spanish, so I felt comfortable and I started talking back to her, that was my first and best memory of KHCC.
"I THINK EVERY STAFF MEMBER WANTS TO MAKE YOU FEEL SPECIAL."
What do you think makes KHCC special?
There are so many things that make KHCC special, but for me it's like a second home. Coming from another country to the Bronx, I didn't feel welcome because I didn't know English. I didn't know the language and I didn't have any friends at all. Jess made me feel like KHCC was a second home where I can speak my own language and feel comfortable. After my second day I would speak to anyone, even though I still only knew Spanish. Jess would be like "He's saying this or that." I feel at home, because they help you with anything you need, for instance they helped me a lot through the college process when I really didn't know what I was doing. I think every staff member wants to make you feel special. I got so attached to the staff, that when I left for college or staff leave, I got so sad.
What are you excited for as you and KHCC go forward?
Things are changing around the center, there is a large focus on the college department. I think it's a great thing that the center has to offer for the future. Last year it was so helpful for me, but this year I saw how the students got so many scholarships and I was proud that the center was getting them the help and recognition that they deserve. I'm sure that it will only continue to grow and help more people like me in the future.
Thanks, Yessy, for taking time out of your busy schedule to reminisce about KHCC! We hope you continue to visit us.
Author: Katharine Krchnavy | Development Intern