The inCOMMON team had the privilege of meeting Juan and his brother Christian in the fall of 2018. They had recently moved into the apartments directly behind the Park Ave Commons and had wandered in by chance to see what was going on. As with any new connection, you never know how long that person will be around or how involved they will be. Yet, even in spite of moving multiple times, Juan and Christian have remained regular and committed participants in inCOMMON’s various youth programs.
This past summer (2023) both Juan and Christian participated in the first ever Roving Listeners internship program in Park Ave. It was a small group of youth who worked doing neighborhood surveys, hosting neighborhood events, and learning about neighborhood organizing in their own community. Both enjoyed the experience of getting to know new people in the neighborhood. Christian noted that people aren’t as scary as they seem once you get to talk to them and Juan said that getting to talk to neighbors in the area helped him get over his social anxiety.
Since doing the Roving Listeners program, Juan has joined the high school wrestling team at Central High School. Though he is a junior, this is his first time doing an organized sport at his school. He credits the Roving Listeners program for helping him gain the confidence to do something new and as a result he has been able to make several new friends on the team. His brother Christian recently got a job with Completely Kids. He enjoyed having some income over the summer and that helped motivate him to seek out a job.
We are so grateful to be a small part of Juan and Christian’s stories. They are exceptional young men and we are so proud to see them continue to grow!