YMCA Opening Massive Center to Help ‘Disconnected’ Youth in Jamaica

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April 12, 2013

QUEENS — Shakila Monk was 17 years old when she became pregnant and later dropped out of Jamaica High School to take care of her daughter.

“I was super scared and didn’t realize how much work it was,” Monk said. “It was very difficult being a teenage parent.”

Months later, while looking for work at a job center, she saw a poster advertising a 9-month YMCA program providing job training and GED classes. She quickly signed up.

“It gave me hope and helped me a lot,” said Monk, now 35, who learned how torefinish floors, light plumbing and plastering.

After finishing her course she got her first job as a cleaner at the Jamaica YMCA in the 1990s. She worked her way up and is now a property manager at the Prospect Park location.