Program helps struggling local youth get on path to success

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. – A young man working to change his life for the better got the help he needed through a local program that’s trying to recruit more people like him.

“If I were to continue to do what I was doing, I wouldn’t know where I’d be today. I ended up getting shot in high school, going through different struggles of my own,” said Lee Bivings. “My mother was deceased, so my grandmother took me and my brother in and we’d have our hardships at times.”

And, Bivings is not alone. It’s a problem many others face. “I just felt like I was different,” he said. “I didn’t want that life for me.”

He credits a mentor and a program through Spartanburg Housing Authority called ‘Face Forward’ for getting him back on track.

“The opportunities they propose to you, it’s great. And Miss Bates has really helped me out in so many different ways,” said Bivings.

Spartanburg Housing Authority Executive Director Terril Bates is trying to help more young people through a similar program called “Youth Build.”

“There are a number of people who have a vested interest in getting to know the students,” said Bates.

18 to 24 year olds who didn’t earn a high school diploma or GED can learn construction skills, while getting help through mentors and tutoring. These students will not spend all of their time at the Youth Build center focused on their education; they’ll also be required to give back to their community by helping to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to contribute to us becoming citizens that contribute to the community and not citizens that engage in behavior that takes away from the wellness of our community,” said Bates. “Youth Build” also offers a $95 per week stipend to help these low income students.

Bivings has seen the benefits of that support first hand, after getting help to earn his high school diploma.

“I plan to go to Claflin University to finish up my education,” he said. “I’m just grateful.”

Applications are still being accepted but spots are limited to 28. Leaders are working to get a new round of students in place to start in two weeks. If interested, contact case manager Eric Cheek at 864-764-8413, or CLICK HERE.

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