On the second floor of a small brick building tucked away on a side street right around the corner from Dudley Square, is Y.O.U. Boston: a nonprofit organization that helps youth ages 16-24 who are court-involved or gang-affiliated by providing them with a space to invest in their futures. The people they serve are either reentering their community after being incarcerated or seeking a safe space away from violence and poverty. On their website, they showcase their mission to “empower and motivate young people to gain the educational, employment, and career advancement necessary to be successful in the workforce, in the community, and in their lives.”
Though their office seems typical, simplistic and plain with its gray cubicles and a couple of computer labs, it contains people who truly care and are actually excited to meet you.
One of these wonderful people is Carlos Barbosa. He is a case manager who grew up in Dorchester and attended Boston Public Schools. With his caring and thoughtful demeanor, he expresses so much love for his work and helping youth. His cubicle was gray and small but showcased his pride in his job through photos of him and youth he works with. Even though his cubicle looked small, his desk was filled with papers that were in a chaotic but organized placement, which he seemed to know like the back of his hand because he could find everything he was looking for with ease. Growing up in the city, Barbosa knows his way around the neighborhoods of Boston, so don’t be surprised if you randomly see him going down one of your neighborhood's streets. He likes to be active in the community and check up on those he cares for.
“I grew up in Dorchester, so I grew up on Adam Street,” he said. “I lived there my whole life and recently just moved to Milton. But I'm moving back to Dorchester again...I kind of do miss being in the city”
His journey to Y.O.U. Boston was atypical because he wasn’t necessarily looking for this type of job. It was nothing like he had done before, as he had only previously worked at City Sports in downtown Boston and small construction jobs on the side.
“With the construction background…I applied to Y.O.U.,” he said. “They were looking for a supervisor for that time in the project that they had was right there in Marine Industrial Park and it was like a demolition project so they were looking for someone to take down the fence and things like that.”
Barbosa explained that his day-to-day “depends on the caseload.” Sometimes he is only at the office trying to find youth resources and reaching out to them, and other days he is in the community with youth advocating for them.
When I asked him if he had any challenges when working for Y.O.U. Boston, he said, “I wouldn't say a challenge really, I think it's just kind of figuring out each youth and how to best help them.” He went on to explain that even though this wasn’t the job he thought he would be doing when he was young, he truly loves helping youth work towards their futures. He expressed that he wants to create strong relationships with the youth he works with and get them to trust him with their feelings and future goals, all the while believing that he will do whatever he can to help them as long as they put in the same effort and time.
“I remember one time when with a youth, he was applying to Job Corps…and the only one that they had was in Vermont,” he said. “So I grabbed one of the vans [and] we took a trip out there just me and him…No, I didn't feel like I was going out my way, you know, going to Vermont that I was just doing my job with them.”
When we ended our interview, it seemed like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. He was 100% authentic when answering my questions. He told me before we started that he had been preparing all morning and even gathered examples of case files before I could ask how they organize files. He was thorough in his explanations and made sure I understood.