St. Stephen's Youth Programs Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Tyler Cavanagh, Development Associate

On Friday, September 27th the B-READY students participated in Hispanic Heritage Day, celebrating culture and identity while learning about being leaders.  The students in our Youth Leadership Corps (YLC) program (grades 6-8) took the lead on developing a program of activities for our LEARN students (grades 1-5) as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15th through October 15th 2019.  Activities included students creating coloring cooks with flags, images, and famous quotes that reflect Hispanic culture and history, decorating “flag” cookies to represent their own culture, as they define themselves, and outdoor play.

Lead by the YLC Program Coordinator, Latasha Scott, staff provided support for their middle school students, but ultimately let them take the spotlight in running the program.  The YLC students experienced first-hand just how much work goes into running programming for over 60 youth, and staff got to see their transition from nervous excitement to pride as they realized the impact that their activities had on the students.  The students prepped materials, gave instructions (in English and in Spanish), facilitated the activities, and supported their younger counterparts in an afternoon filled with laughter and fun. 

Over 50% of the participants at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs are Hispanic so it is critical that we celebrate their culture and bring these types of events to our community. Speaking with Latasha about the importance of the day, she was excited to talk about why the YLC team hosted the event: “The impact I hope it had on the LEARN students was that these cultures look different but share many different aspects of identities, whether that be through art, like making coloring books, or cooking and just having fun. The impact that I hope it had on YLC was to understand the importance of helping our next generation share their culture and be proud to embrace it.”

Watching the LEARN students engage with each other with meaningful conversations culture and identity was a powerful sight, but the YLC students were the real stars of the day, sharing the knowledge and appreciation for the cultures that define our community and showing their leadership skills in action.


Tyler holds a bachelor's degree in music with a concentration in vocal performance from Westfield State University. With over 15 years of experience in youth work, including licensed camps and childcare, teen leadership programming, mentoring, and arts education, Tyler is excited to bring his experience to the development side of the table. He has a passion for building community and creating opportunities to celebrate diversity and inclusion in all ages but especially in young people. Tyler currently lives on the South Shore where he is an active performer in community theatre, choirs, and recitals.

B-SAFE brings the B-Power

BYLINE: Anthony Pereira Pomales, Maoly Lara Pena, Nikkia Jean-Charles

This summer, rather than having a team of Teen Organizers who got intensive training on community organizing skills B-SAFE tried something new. We three experienced Teen Organizers were hired to bring a five-week civics currciulum to all the young people at every B-SAFE site. In our 20th summer, more than 500 elementary, middle, and high schoolers learned something about individual and collective power. We taught them the ways they already have power and how they can use their power together to make their neighborhoods safer, friendlier, and more fun.

At each elementary site, we led classes each week during Fun at Home Days. Games and art activities helped young people identify the power they have from their name and heritage through art. Then, students learned about other young people from history--such as Malala who works on girls education from Pakistan and Emma Gonzalez who addresses gun violence through March for Our Lives in Florida--have used their power to make real changes in the world. And then, together, each site used their learnings to create big posters of power with words and symbols from their lessons.

At each middle school site, we taught middle schoolers about power in a single day. Again, young people thought and shared together about the power they have as individuals. Then, they identified issues they cared about in their neighborhoods; they talked both about things that were great about their local area and then things they might want to change. After identifying these issues, YLC-ers made signs and chants and had a peace walk-community love walk in the neighborhood around the site.

It was not always easy to keep the attention of young people. And we had to adapt our lessons to keep the attention of the youngest participants (they really do not like to sit still!). And we learned some things that we would do differently next summer. But we think that these opportunities to learn about power and to have another way to "do it like you" set all of our B-SAFE participants up for seeing themselves as young leaders and making real and meaningful contributions to their neighborhoods in the months and years to come.

More about Anthony, Maoly, and Nikkia

Anthony, Maoly, and Nikkia are all experienced Teen Organizers who have been involved in SSYP and the B-PEACE for Jorge Campaign for the past four years. Anthony and Maoly both recently graduated from Fenway High School and will be attending Bunker Hill College in the fall. Nikkia will be returning to Cathedral High School and continuing her work with B-PEACE. She and another Teen Organizer, Ekran Sharif, took a few days off from B-SAFE this July to travel to Texas where they were among the 100 top teen leaders from around the country at a National Strategy Session for March For Our Lives, planning out the next phase of the campaign to end gun violence.

Anthony helping young people define what it takes to be a powerful perso

Anthony helping young people define what it takes to be a powerful perso

B-Power at Church of the Holy Spirit

B-Power at Church of the Holy Spirit

B-Power at B-SAFE at St. Mary's

B-Power at B-SAFE at St. Mary's

B-Power's Community Love Walk through Codman Square area

B-Power's Community Love Walk through Codman Square area

B-SAFE at Epiphany YLC shows their love for Dorchester

B-SAFE at Epiphany YLC shows their love for Dorchester

What is power?

What is power?

Family Engagement! B-SAFE: It Is Not Just For Youth and Teens!

Karlenin Alcantara, B-SAFE's Parent Engagement Coordinator and Liz Steinhauser, Senior Director of Youth Programs

The mission of St. Stephen's Youth Programs is to promote equity in education, employment, and opportunity through long-term relationships with youth and their families and communities. There are lots of ways that B-SAFE strives to accomplish this mission through our academic rotations for elementary and middle schoolers and through jobs and professional development trainings for teens.

SSYP takes seriously our mission statement's words "and their families." A recent report from the National Education Association cited a large body of research evidence that shows that "[w]hen schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher level programs. Researchers cite parent-family community involvement as a key to addressing the school dropout crisis and note that strong school-family-community partnerships foster higher educational aspirations and more motivated students."

B-SAFE's Family Engagement Programs are part of making this happen and not only for the longer-term educational benefits, but also because it is FUN! At all of our B-SAFE sites this summer we had three or four events that engaged parents: our opening week Parent Orientation to B-SAFE, a family barbecue, all-ages Zumba, and our final week Closing Ceremony. Our hope is that even in a short, five-week summer program, we can help build connections between and among parents and create a relationship with families that will continue into the school-year. And, more immediately, exercising together and eating together are ways for families--parents, siblings, and B-SAFE participants--to have fun, eat healthy, and celebrate the joys that summer and cool, project-based learning can bring.

More about Karlenin and Liz -

This is Karlenin Alcantara's first summer as B-SAFE's Parent Engagement Coordinator. She has years of experience working with families as an outreach staff person with local health centers and in conversations with other parents at the Boston Public Schools of her two children. Karlenin loves to learn and get to know new families!

Liz Steinhauser joined St. Stephen's staff in August 2003. She brings over 30 years of professional training and experience as a youth worker and community organizer to the position. Liberation theology developed her commitment to social justice. Girl Scouts built her arts and crafts skills and her repertoire of goofy songs. She is a graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Divinity School and is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She lives in Roslindale with her modern family.

Morning Zumba with families at B-SAFE at Epiphany in Dorchester!

Morning Zumba with families at B-SAFE at Epiphany in Dorchester!

Getting ready for ZUMBA!!!!

Getting ready for ZUMBA!!!!

Family barbecue at B-SAFE at St. Stephen's in the South End

Family barbecue at B-SAFE at St. Stephen's in the South End

B-SAFE Book Reports!

BYLINE: Megan D'Allessandro, B-SAFE A-Team Intern

Throughout B-SAFE's Humanities lessons this summer, the young elementary schoolers at all of our B-SAFE sites have been learning about reading skills such as making connections, visualizing while reading, and asking questions. Together, we used these strategies while reading titles such as The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, and Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco. We did mini-activities such as writing poems about a family tradition and creating question charts as a way to further explore these books. After almost four weeks of reading, writing, and activities, I asked participants to work together in groups. Their mission was to create a poster about one of the books we read together in Humanities for their final project. For the next week, kids worked hard, drawing and coloring their favorite scenes depicting flying model airplanes, ducks swimming in the Boston Public Garden, and expansive cityscapes. 

During Closing Ceremonies on our penultimate day of program, the young people were eager to present their final projects. Each group presented their poster, gave a brief summary of the book they chose, and explained what they drew. In addition, they either described what they enjoyed about B-SAFE or something they learned in Humanities! 

Since this is my first year teaching at B-SAFE, I felt that I was learning just as much as the participants. I was impressed by their teamwork skills and their ability to overcome the occasional disagreement to work together. I’m so proud of the fantastic work they have done!


Originally from Maine, Megan is a rising junior at Wellesley College where she is majoring in Sociology. She became involved with St. Stephen’s Youth Programs as a member of the A-Team (Academic Team) through the Lumpkin Summer Institute of Service Learning at Wellesley, a program focused on mentoring students working with nonprofit organizations. Outside of B-SAFE, Megan enjoys singing, drawing, and running.

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Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

BYLINE: Mindy Simmons, B-SAFE at St. Mary's Site Manager

Eager kids, excited parents, nervous teens and a site manager that wasn't quite sure what to expect. These were the initial people and their feelings as we walked through the doors on Day One, Monday, July 8, at the B-SAFE at St. Mary's site in Upham's Corner, Dorchester. As a new Site Manager, I thought of all the possible scenarios that the summer might present; I thought even more about my leadership style and what that will look like. My goal was to make sure that the kids were learning and having fun while doing so. I also wanted to be sure the teen CITs (Counselors-in-Training) were gaining something meaningful, maybe even profound, from their experience working with younger students, starting with setting individual goals and then making a plan to meet those goals.

As we approached some gloomy and wet conditions in Week One, I became anxious about the weather. The forecast reported that it would be raining all day on our first full day field trip on Friday. Both CIT's and youth had lots of questions and concerns about how this would impact the activities for the day. But then...as we transitioned through the busy streets of downtown Boston, I noticed a break in the clouds in the sky. It was the SUN! The sun came to pay us a visit!! Adult staff, teen CIT's, and young participants all sighed in relief! I took a deep breath myself, as now I felt sure that everyone could fully enjoy our time at Spectacle Island.

Shorts and water shoes were the only words I heard as we prepared to put our toes into the shallow waters on the beach. Kids were eager to start splashing; our CIT's used their own feelings as cautious motivation to keep young people safe. Teen CIT's and adult leads tossed balls around, playing and engaging with youth. At the same time, they remained vigilant to the safety of the youth. These may seem like small things--fun smiles, watchful eyes--yet for me these demonstrate the teamwork of care and shared dedication of our staff. It is small, everyday moments like these that make this Site Manager role special.

Mindy Simmons is excited to join SSYP this summer to be the Site Manager at St. Mary’s! Mindy was born in La Ceiba, Honduras and raised in Dorchester since the age of five. Mindy graduated with a Masters degree in Social Work in 2015 and, during the school year, she works as a school-based therapist in the Boston Public Schools. Mindy takes pride in mentoring kids and helping them recognize their own potential. Outside of B-SAFE, Mindy enjoys spending time with family, cooking, travel, and outdoor activities.

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Teen Trainings are a Learning Lab

BYLINE: Traciana Barnes, B-SAFE Teen Staff Manager

This summer with B-SAFE was nothing short of amazing! This was my second summer as a Teen Staff Manager with B-SAFE. Being able to work so closely with the teens and youth participants and getting to watch their growth was an honor. For me, it is fulfilling to help teens with their professional growth. For many of them, working with B-SAFE is their first job, so they are learning for the first time the importance of early impressions and putting their best foot forward.

For the past six weeks, I had the pleasure of working directly with the teens who were based at two sites: St. Mary’s in Uphams Corner, Dorchester and St. Augustine and Martin in Lower Roxbury. Our teen staff trainings helped give the teens valuable skills for B-SAFE, for the work world, and for life. For professional skills, trainings focused on setting goals and then making a realistic plan to achieve those goals. For life skills, many of the trainings added to the confidence teens already have so that they can be great public leaders. For B-SAFE, trainings focused on youth worker skills, such as how to help youth really see details on field trips, which made all the field trips a great learning experience for teens and youth alike.

One specific field trip where I saw young people and teens learning something new was at Farrington Farm in Lincoln. This long-time partner of B-SAFE also hires teens who lead workshops on farm animals and their life cycle, take youth on hikes in the pine groves, and teach craft sessions in which youth can make art using natural materials. At Farrington, the young people and teens learned about the importance of nature preservation. For many of our youth, this was new information and sparked their curiosity because most of them live in the city. For the teens, they experienced teaching and learning outside the classroom, which added to their abilities as youth workers and was directly related to trainings they had received. As a result, a fun day out on the farm became a classroom and laboratory of learning for everyone.

Traciana Barnes is returning for her second summer with B-SAFE as a Teen Staff Manager and this summer will be supervising two teams of teen CITs, one at St. Mary's and one at St. Augustine and St. Martin. Traciana graduated from Curry College with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and she recently received her Master's degree in Education. Traciana currently works in the Boston Public Schools as an Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA), supporting students with autism.

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Teen Trainings!

Jasmine Bruner, B-SAFE at St. Stephen's Teen Staff Coordinator

Each week this summer, all of our B-SAFE Counselors-In-Training (CITs) participated in various workshops and professional development trainings. These trainings are part of the meaningful and paid employment for each of B-SAFE's more than 150 teens. B-SAFE provides these 25-hour a week, $12 hour jobs thanks to the City of Boston and the SuccessLinks Program, the Chelsea Collaborative, YOU Employment, and donors to St. Stephen's Youth Programs.

The first trainings were led by Planned Parenthood and their Voices curriculum. During these weeks, the CITs explored the intersectionality of identity through small group discussions and group activities. One of these activities included sharing "River Stories" during which teens had the opportunity to share significant moments in their pasts and also share aspirations for their futures. Reflecting on identity, they also focused on their own empowerment and learning how they have the power to positively impact their communities.

In other trainings, the CITs spent time thinking critically about social justice issues they were passionate about and creating campaigns to address these issues. They also had the opportunity to work on developing their resumes and practicing interview skills. To conclude the summer, CITs reflected on their growth as leaders and created their own leadership maps which highlighted key characteristics they valued within themselves and each other. All of these weekly meetings provided teens with opportunities to connect, reflect over the last week of program, and set goals for the next!

More about Jasmine - Jasmine recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. She joined SSYP this year through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and will be returning in the fall as the year-round Teen Staff Coordinator thanks to the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, an AmeriCorps Program. Jasmine is enthusiastic about empowering young people to develop their passions and be confident about who they are.

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Pictionary with B-SAFE

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“A Person!”

“A Pregnant Person!”

“What is that?!”

“Wait….HUNGRY!”

The Rangers guessed the word correctly and the participants stood, demanding an explanation from their artists. Some showed frustration while others cheered their teams for getting the point. 

As part of the elementary program's Humanities rotation, the B-SAFE LEARN participants were thinking of words through pictures. They were challenged to think how they can represent words like "hungry," "grapes," and "enter," among many others. The words ranged in difficulty and that was evident. Some students, when it was their turn to draw, tried to convey their drawings with intense stares. They didn’t know how else to let their teams know that the secret word was "seashells."

Not only were the kids enjoying some friendly competition, but also the teens were having fun, too! While simultaneously trying to keep the participants engaged, teens were guessing and giving clues. The activity proved to be a very good way to help students think about new words. The words that were not objects were the most difficult, but the kids stretched and learned with the help of some of the teens and adults in the room. 

Pictionary was a huge success that helped students become comfortable with new vocabulary and build teamwork skills! 

By Anani Galindo, Senior Fellow B-SAFE Academic Team

Anani Galindo is a recent Wellesley College graduate with majors in both English and Spanish. She is pursuing her teacher certification in the fall and then will join the Teach for America 2020 corps. This is her second summer with the St. Stephen's Youth Programs. In her free time, she can be found looking for new books to read and biking through the Massachusetts trails.

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B-BETTER Day of Action at the Blackstone School

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The Youth Leadership Corps (YLC) is--as the name indicates--a leadership development program for young people in grades 6 through 8. During B-SAFE, there are a total of 150 YLC-ers at three sites: St. Stephen's in the South End, Epiphany School in Dorchester, and St. Luke's in Chelsea. At each of these YLC sites, staff strive to create safe, caring environments where young people can grow, express themselves, and thrive. During July and August, YLC-ers embark on fresh adventures such as exploring new parks, discovering hidden treasures of Boston through scavenger hunts, and giving back to their community through service projects. In trainings, discussion groups, and book clubs, YLC-ers, unpack new outlooks on social justice topics such as the #MeToo Movement and racial equity issues.

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On Monday, July 29, the YLC-ers of St. Stephen's in the South End had a Day of Action at the Blackstone School. This was one in a series of B-BETTER Days, days full of programming that allow YLC-ers to invest in and show love for their community. The Blackstone School is a school of 575 students that is directly across the street from St. Stephen's; about 10% of the student body participates in SSYP during the school year and summer. Many of the current YLC-ers are alumni of the Blackstone.

Working with teacher Ms. Crystal Collier, YLC-ers accomplished three projects during the Day of Action at the Blackstone. YLC-ers painted the walls in the fifth-grade hallway area, freshening up the space and preparing areas for bright and timely murals. These new murals will have relevant designs and culturally appropriate messages to will create a welcoming atmosphere for the students of the Blackstone, many of whom have roots in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

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YLC-ers moved furniture from storage areas and crowded, unused bay areas to the appropriate rooms so that these desks, chairs, and wiggle stools can be put to use for studying, conversation, and small group work on projects. This will enhance the learning environment for everyone, including students with different learning needs.

YLC-ers organized donations of clothes and hygiene products in the Family Engagement Center so that parents and students who need shirts, jackets, or shampoo can easily find what they need and feel a sense of respect for their human dignity in the process.

For the YLC-ers, this was a day to give back to a place that felt like home for many of them during their elementary school years. They know what it is to have a place and program that feels like home, because that is what SSYP's YLC is for many of them during the school year and the summer. For B-SAFE 2019, YLC-ers are getting to "do it like YOU," both by contributing to community health and beauty and by having social time and field trips, just like all other pre-teens enjoy.

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By Latasha Scott, Site Coordinator of B-SAFE at St. Stephen's YLC

Latasha Scott is originally from upstate New York; she currently lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She began her career at SSYP in the fall of 2017 as a Lead Counselor with the YLC. Since September 2018, Latasha has served as the YLC Program Coordinator through our partnership with the Massachusetts Promise Fellow, an Americorps Program. She is continuing in this role and with MPF this summer and next school year. Latasha attended Dean College, studying sports medicine, and is now enrolled in Northeastern University where she is majoring in health science. Latasha likes to build relationships with the youth in a fresh way and enjoys the process of learning and teaching about social justice.

20 Years, 7,000 Young People, 1 Community

Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts' Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris joining the Anniversary fun by getting her first ever airbrush tattoo.

Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts' Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris joining the Anniversary fun by getting her first ever airbrush tattoo.

Families joined the fun at the Anniversary Carnival, including the hula hoop competition!

Families joined the fun at the Anniversary Carnival, including the hula hoop competition!

The sun was bright and the skies were clear when nearly 800 people connected to the B-SAFE Program gathered at Carson Beach for the program's 20th Anniversary Carnival on Friday, July 26. Youth participants, teen and adult staff, volunteers from partner organizations, alumni of the program, and parents of participants all came together to celebrate two decades of relationship-building, academic-skill-practicing, exciting-field-tripping, art-creating, healthy-lunch-eating, and fun-having. A spirit of gratitude and joy was evident in the smiles and excitement of young people and adults alike.

A little facepaint and EVERYONE becomes a superhero!

A little facepaint and EVERYONE becomes a superhero!

Beach ball relay races!

Beach ball relay races!

The B-SAFE Program (Bishop's Summer Academic and Fun Enrichment Program) was established in summer 2000 by the Rev, Tim Crellin, shortly after he became the vicar of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in the South End. His experience as a youth worker in the neighborhood in the years before becoming a priest and his conversations with parents and young people in the neighborhood informed his understanding that there was a need for more affordable, high-quality summer programs in the Villa Victoria neighborhood. That first summer, there were 25 elementary schoolers in the four-week program; they had a great time making art, splashing at the Blackstone pool, and going on local field trips. Over the years, the B-SAFE program has grown and evolved. Inspired by research that demonstrated the summer learning slide experienced by many urban public school students, B-SAFE developed fun academic curricula to practice reading, writing and math skills. Motivated by the former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, the Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, B-SAFE expanded beyond the South End location to six neighborhoods around Boston and Chelsea. With the help of Mayor Tom Menino and now Mayor Marty Walsh, B-SAFE added a youth employment component to B-SAFE; more than 150 teens have meaningful jobs or paid internships through B-SAFE each summer. In the past 20 years, 7,000 unique students have participated in B-SAFE and this summer, over 65% of B-SAFE's adult staff are former participants or teen staff from the programs.

Lunches for all, thanks to some of B-SAFE's 50+ partner churches

Lunches for all, thanks to some of B-SAFE's 50+ partner churches

At the Anniversary Carnival, this sense of connection, love, and fun was in the air. Young people from different sites and neighborhoods played together with friendly games and relay races and a tug-of-love (a more peaceful version of tug-of-war). Everyone ate at least one popsicle or novelty from the ice cream truck. Young people held hermit crabs and explored marine life with the help of the New England Aquarium instructors. Laughter and smiles were as abundant as the turkey and cheese sandwiches and wraps volunteers from suburban Episcopal churches had prepared for lunch. Founder and SSYP Executive Director Tim Crellin said about the day, "People ask me, 'Tim, did you ever imagine that B-SAFE would have this many kids at this many locations?' And honestly, I never did. But I am so grateful for all the staff and partners who have been part of our B-SAFE community over the years and made all of this happen."

Leaders from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Wellesley taking a short break after running Minute to Win It activities with youth.

Leaders from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Wellesley taking a short break after running Minute to Win It activities with youth.

B-SAFE is just one part of St. Stephen's Youth Programs (SSYP), which has as its mission to promote equity in education, employment, and opportunity through long-term relationships with young people and their families and communities. During the school year, SSYP runs afterschool programs in two locations for elementary and middle schoolers. SSYP's teen and alumni programs provide support for young people as they plan for their futures in college and in careers. Community organizing and family engagement programs help teens and parents develop leadership skills and create solutions for issues of community safety and in public education. To learn more or to get involved, contact liz@ssypboston.org or come to SSYP's Fall Open House on Tuesday, September 24 from 6:30-8:00pm at 419 Shawmut Avenue.

Teens and youth participants building relationships!

Teens and youth participants building relationships!

By Liz Steinhauser, Senior Director of Youth Programs

Liz Steinhauser joined St. Stephen's staff as the Director of Youth Programs in August 2003. She brings over 30 years of professional training and experience as a youth worker and community organizer to the position. Liberation theology developed her commitment to social justice. Girl Scouts built her arts and crafts skills and her repertoire of goofy songs. She is a graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Divinity School and is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She lives in Roslindale with her modern family.

Teens Out in the Field!

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Every year in B-SAFE, teens who are between 15-18 years old work alongside the adult staff as mentors to the younger participants. Teen Counselors-in-Training help elementary and middle school age participants make friends, create art, do creative writing, learn to do a lay-up, resolve conflict, and stay safe on field trips. Teen Organizers design and implement curriculum that teach others about power, civics, and community organizing skills. Teen Facilities Coordinators keep the classroom spaces sparkling clean and ready for youth learning to happen. Our B-SAFE Program would not be possible without the time, efforts, and skills of the teen staff.

This summer at B-SAFE at St. Augustine and St. Martin, we have some super amazing teen staff members. (We hear this is true at other sites, too, but we know we have the best teens!) Our teens are always willing to step up to the plate; they often take on a leadership position and act as the captain of their team.

One of the teens at St. Augustine and St. Martin even has a special title: Super CIT. Christian Aguilar, our Super CIT, is always ready to pitch in. In the first week, Christian had to serve as a Substitute Lead Counselor for several days when our Lead Counselor sprained her ankle. Christian regularly checks in with Leads to be sure they have the support they need with participants; he fills in any gaps. Just today, Christian came in off the bench and served as a Teaching Specialist for one of the rotation blocks. Another teen MVP is Robert Peguero. Even he time in his shift is up, he stays to volunteer wherever he is most needed. Like the other teens, Robert always goes above expectations, proves he is a hard worker, and is ready for the B-SAFE Hall of Fame.

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All of these teens --nearly 170 of them--are employed, earning a paycheck and having meaningful responsibilities. The jobs help teens build professional skills and a sense of purpose. B-SAFE is grateful for all the organizations and funders that help to make these summer jobs possible, including YEE (Youth Engagement and Employment and Opportunities of the City of Boston), YOU (Youth Options Unlimited of Boston's Workforce Development), My Summer in the City of The Boston Foundation, and the Youth Employment Initiative of the Chelsea Collaborative.

By Dayanara Abreu, Site Assistant for B-SAFE at St. Augustine & St. Martin

Dayanara Abreu began her career as a CIT with St. Stephen's Youth Programs. She now works in an advanced leadership role as the Site Assistant for B-SAFE at St. Augustine and St. Martin.

Twinsies!

B-POWER Organizers Anthony and Maoly

B-POWER Organizers Anthony and Maoly

Teen Staff at St. Luke's

Teen Staff at St. Luke's

Today is the halfway point in B-SAFE 2019. We have completed 12 of our 24 days of program, which means that we are 50% of the way through the learning, leadership development, fun-having, and friendship-building of the summer.

The good news is there is still plenty of time to go and many more opportunities to grow. And, in even more good news, from travels around all six of our B-SAFE sites, it seems as though our relationship-building is more like 100% of the way there. At least that is what this album of twinsies photos seems to show!

By Liz Steinhauser, Senior Director of Youth Programs

Liz Steinhauser joined St. Stephen's staff as the Director of Youth Programs in August 2003. She brings over 30 years of professional training and experience as a youth worker and community organizer to the position. Liberation theology developed her commitment to social justice. Girl Scouts built her arts and crafts skills and her repertoire of goofy songs. She is a graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Divinity School and is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She lives in Roslindale with her modern family.

Teen Staff Manager Traciana and Site Manager Mindy

Teen Staff Manager Traciana and Site Manager Mindy

Actual twin participants at St. Luke's!

Actual twin participants at St. Luke's!



 

A B-SAFE "Aha" Moment

Site Manager Asjah Monroe with Christ Church, Cambridge leader Susan Root

Site Manager Asjah Monroe with Christ Church, Cambridge leader Susan Root

In all of my work with people over the years, I have always come with the intention to help in some way: to do some teaching or (perhaps) to improve the lives of others in some way.  As life would have it, I discover that I am also there to receive something from the people I encounter in my work. I find even the occasional brute had some life lesson to offer!  Thanks to the various people with whom I have served, I have gained wisdom, joy, a broadened perspective, a paradigm shift. These have all been some of the unanticipated gifts I have received and I have been grateful for them.

Our collaborative effort in B-SAFE with our program staff and participants with our Episcopal church partners has been no different.  Sometimes, when our partners come together with B-SAFE participants, it can be like two worlds colliding.  However, this kind of colliding is not the disastrous kind. This is the kind that includes excitement and possibility. There is a sense of welcome with each encounter; I observe the young people reaching out toward the partner volunteers.  I observe the humility, the diligence, and, in nearly every case, the gladness with which the partners are serving. Each day at lunch and each Friday on the full-day field trips, I have had a front row seat at an orchestral symphony of service happening right in front of me.

I admit it; I was initially apprehensive about what this part of B-SAFE was going to be like.  I am someone who has very strong ideas and feelings about issues of class and race.  This experience with B-SAFE has been an eye-opener. I feel I have discovered a deeper truth, one that is both extraordinary and simple: It all comes down to intention. Despite the pre-existing, sometimes tense dynamics that can be at play between groups of people of different races, places of origin, age, and income levels, what I see is that if people bring with them the intention to act in love then act in love they will.  And when they do this, when we do this, the result is something very beautiful. Young people are ready and willing to receive this kind of love. And, fortunately, many of our partners are the kind of people who intend to show love.

After all, does not ancient wisdom (Psalm 133) tell us that it is both good and pleasant for people to live together in unity?

By Asjah Monroe, Site Manager of B-SAFE at Epiphany LEARN

Asjah Monroe was born and raised in Boston, MA where she attended UMass Boston, earning her graduate degree in education there. She really enjoys working with elementary school-aged students and, in her free time, she can be found watching an inordinate number of cat videos.

JCITs take over Revere Beach

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As the second week of program came to an end, the JCITs (Junior-Counselors-in-Training) from St. Augustine & St. Martin had the best beach day at Revere Beach. The JCIT Program is B-SAFE's paid internship and leadership training program for ninth graders. After taking the MBTA train to the beach, the JCITs began their day by setting their towels and blankets out on the beach. We had plenty of choices, given that we had the whole place to ourselves.

While at the beach, I could tell the JCITs were building relationships and getting closer with each other because they literally set their towels right next to each other. We all made one big area where we could sit or lay for the entire day. To amplify things (also literally), the JCITs brought a speaker to play music. We all had fun, dancing and singing to the music that everyone knows!

Amazingly, every single JCIT wanted to splash in the water and that’s exactly what they did! It was different--in a good way--to see all of them willing to have some active fun. There was no one just sitting back on the sand. As an extra bonus, we had a good, bonding time fighting off all the nasty seagulls, but not quite all of them because someone did get their pizza taken off into the air! Nevertheless, it was literally a near-perfect beach day!

By Aliyah Glover, JCIT Site Assistant for St. Augustine & St. Martin

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Aliyah Glover lives around the corner from St. Stephen's and is a former participant in St. Stephen's Youth Programs (starting when she was in elementary school). When she was in ninth grade, Aliyah was a JCIT herself and now is on the B-SAFE adult leadership staff, working as the Site Assistant for the JCIT Program at St. Augustine and St. Martin. Aliyah is a 2018 graduate of Wayland High School; while there, she ran on Wayland track team and won the State Championships in the 200 meter dash and the 200 meter relay. Aliyah is a rising sophomore at Bridgewater State University where she is majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology.

The Power of Lunch

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How many lunches do we serve during our six-week B-SAFE program? About 17,500. 

How many volunteers from partner organizations--including nearly 50 partner churches, including two interfaith networks--plan, shop, chop, cook, plate and feed 500+ young people, 160 teen staffers, and all of our adult staff, too? About 300.

What’s for lunch? (a question asked approximately 1000 times a day by all those young people; they each ask twice): Tacos; meatball (and veggie “meatball”) subs; chicken, penne and broccoli; rice, beans and plantains; peppers and carrots and apples and yogurt, among many other tasty choices.

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Some of the volunteers have matching aprons. Some have clever ways of keeping food hot, like keeping it in a cooler wrapped tight in tin foil. Some are volunteering with family members: mothers and daughters, aunts and nephews, siblings and cousins. In addition to all the food preparation, many of these volunteers also read with young participants during B-LIT time and help organize and lead B-SAFE field trips on Fridays in green spaces all over Greater Boston.

It sounds impressive, and it is. In our 20th year of B-SAFE, we are grateful for the support and hard work of our partner volunteers, for the time they spend preparing food and sharing it with our young people, for the money they raise for groceries and bus costs, and for the food itself, all donated, which allows us to spend our budget on staff, enrichment activities, and all the other expenses of a summer program for 800+ young people. 

Lunch is a time for our young people to relax, to take a breather between the academic rotations of the morning and the enrichment activities and field trips of the afternoon. But it’s not really about the food, for them or for our volunteers. It’s about relationships and getting to know each other. One long-time volunteer gets a little teary talking about playing with a little girl in our program on the beach 13 summers ago and seeing the same girl last week all grown up as a proud CIT (Counselor-In-Training). The same volunteer told us the connections go beyond the young people, too. In her congregation’s 12 years of partnership with B-SAFE, they have had over 60 different members of the congregation participate, many returning summer after summer. Among their group of volunteers, people have connected and friendships have flourished, all because of B-SAFE.

That's the Power of Lunch.

By Jen Cusack, Director of Leadership Giving

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Jen Cusack joined SSYP in 2016, after serving as the Executive Director of Wondermore, a small literacy non-profit that brings children's book authors and illustrators into Boston Public School classrooms for visits and writing workshops. Jen is a proud graduate of the Boston Public Schools and Brown University. As a parent of three sons with very different personalities and interests, she appreciates the wide range of programs and opportunities B-SAFE offers to our young people as they pursue their own individual passions.

B-SAFE Can Change the Weather!

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At the end of our first week of program, the B-SAFE at Epiphany LEARN site was anticipating our first full-day Friday field trip. The uncertain weather forecast --would it rain? would it thunder?--added to the feelings of the morning. Slowly, young people started arriving to the building, checked in with staff, and took their seats in the cafeteria, talking each other with excitement about the trip. Our wonderful Epiphany Site Assistants helped the group start off the morning with a delicious breakfast. But what would the day's weather hold?

Our site of 60 elementary youth, 15 teens, and 10 adult staff boarded a bus and traveled 35 miles from our site near Codman Square in Dorchester to Hopkinton State Park. An hour-long, muggy, and hot bus ride later, the youth still had a positive attitude. They were curious if we would be able to splash in the water and hike through the trees. And then...the skies began to turn blue and the gray clouds withered away! The day's activities were ON!

Our first activity for the day put the "safe" in B-SAFE. Our staff securely created a perimeter of our bodies before participants began exploring the shallow waters of the pond. Once the protective perimeter was established, group by group, participants stepped in and the splashing began almost instantly. It was clear that the young people were excited to cool off.

The fun didn’t stop there! Our fantastic partner church volunteers from St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Holliston were ready to host us for lunch at the shaded picnic area. After a cook-out lunch, the volunteers led participants in fun field games and nature scavenger hunts. Each young person was given a checklist of natural objects to look for in the woods and fields. Some of the things were so small that they required a magnifying glass to find.

So, although the morning started off with gray skies, our B-SAFE at Epiphany LEARN participants brightened up the day with their positive attitude and smiles. A day filled with clouds turned into a day full of splashing and joy.

By Jefferson Guerrero, Site Assistant for B-SAFE at Epiphany LEARN

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Jefferson Guerrero, a life-long Dorchester resident, started attending B-SAFE at Epiphany YLC as a middle schooler back in 2012. He has returned each year to be part of B-SAFE, building relationships and connections that he expects will last a lifetime. This summer, Jefferson has an advanced leadership role as the Site Assistant for B-SAFE at Epiphany LEARN where he gets to lean into his commitment to community service and youth development. He is a recent graduate of Cristo Rey High School. In the fall, Jefferson will attend University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth where he plans to major in Criminal Justice.


The JCITs Go Beyond Their Comfort Zone

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Each summer, new B-SAFE JCITs (Junior Counselors-in-Training) find their way to St. Stephen’s Youth Programs. The JCIT Program is a paid internship for rising ninth graders who seek opportunities for growth, increased leadership skills and work experience throughout the summer and school year.

During the first week of B-SAFE, JCITs stepped outside their comfort zone on Thompson Island thanks to Outward Bound. After taking a boat out to the island in the Boston Harbor, JCITs participated in various team-building challenges. Each game or obstacle required cooperation and collective problem-solving, skills that the JCITs would soon get to apply in their youth development work with younger participants in B-SAFE.

The experience on Thompson Island culminated with most formidable event of the day: the Alpine Tower! The Alpine Tower is a 50-foot climbing structure that beckons climbers to take the road less traveled and overcome their fears. Again, for many of the JCITs this experience in Outward Bound applies to life, too, as they regularly have to come over fears of trying something they have never done before, orienting a new volunteer, or talking in front of a group of peers and adults.

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One JCIT faced and overcame her fear of heights. As she stood on the pinnacle of the Alpine Tower, the rest of the group shouted up from the ground, "Are you still afraid of heights?" She proudly and emphatically exclaimed back, “NO!” 

Every single JCIT in the group of 32 teens took the challenge. Each ninth grader went beyond their personal comfort zone. Their courage and resilience was made evident by their willingness to stretch themselves. All the JCITs described the experience as one they will never forget.

By Julie Clerge, JCIT Coordinator for St. Augustine & St. Martin

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Julie Clerge, JCIT Coordinator for St. Augustine and St. Martin, has over a decade of experience as a youth worker. She graduated from Bridgewater State University, earning a Bachelor's degree in social work . Starting this fall, she will be pursuing a Master's of Social Work degree. Julie is passionate about helping young people achieve their highest potential. 

Learning Resilience On the Roller Rink

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This past Friday, July 12 at B-SAFE at St. Augustine and St. Martin was FUN-tastic!

After studying the weather forecast all week and realizing it was going to rain, our partner churches took creativity and flexibility to a whole new level. The Parish of the Good Shepherd in Waban and All Saints Church in Brookline came together to create a wonderful rainy day plan for all the participants and teens of B-SAFE at St. Augustine and St. Martin.

Rather than having a day at a lake, we took the bus from Lower Roxbury to Mattapan and enjoyed a morning of roller-skating at Chez Vous Roller Rink. Many of the participants, teens, and staff were first-time roller skaters! Some of us fumbled and fell. But, in a lesson that applies to other aspects of life, we got right back up and soon got the hang of moving around a rink on four wheels.

We built our sense of community through the support offered to each other. Teens and adults gave participants skated alongside participants and offered encouragement. Other young people felt more comfortable holding onto the bar on the wall as teens guided them around the room. Even though the rink was hot and the exercise made our shirts stick to our skin, we listened to the music and rolled with passion.

As mentioned, this field trip was more than just fun. It taught us some very important lessons. When you fall, you should get right back up. Learn to roll with the situation. Based on what young people said as they boarded the bus to travel to Waban for lunch and more fun there, I am sure that many young people will be going back to enjoy the welcoming environment at Chez Vous Roller Rink and to practice their skills of resilience. 

By Cassandra Bernabel, Site Manager for B-SAFE at St. Augustine and St. Martin

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Ten years ago, Cassandra's first job was as a teen CIT (Counselor-in-Training) with St. Stephen's Youth Programs. For the last year, she has worked full time as the Site Manager for SSYP's afterschool and summer programs at St. Augustine & St. Martin. She is a graduate of Framingham State University. When not working at SSYP, Cassandra is studying for her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) at Tufts University and playing with her dog, Rico, whom she loves.


"We are Going on a Lion Hunt" at the Franklin Park Zoo

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On Tuesday, July 9, I helped lead the B-SAFE site at St. Stephens LEARN on a wonderful opportunity to go the Franklin Park Zoo. Although it was an extremely hot day, my young friend, participant S., and I walked around the entire zoo looking at the amazing variety of animals the zoo had on display. 

Our first adventure led us to the lions. We watched the wisdom of the lions who also found the weather steamy and took refuge under a large tree. They refused to move, leaving participants and me unsatisfied. We wanted to hear the lions roar. While we were sad by the lions' unwillingness to move around, our sense S. and I left to explore the rest of the zoo.

We soon found ourselves with the giraffes. S. asked all types of questions of the zoo worker about the body of the giraffe and what kind of food they eat in the wild. S. enjoyed the fact that the giraffe is really tall; she wanted to ride it. 

Next, we ventured to the gorilla enclosure just in time to see the pregnant gorilla mother and the silverback male. S. began telling me about “Big Joe”. At first, I was extremely confused because I have never heard about a gorilla named “Big Joe.” But, after entering the primate area, I understood!. The large silverback gorilla is named "Big Joe" and he was in the enclosure along a young gorilla and the pregnant female gorilla. This was the best part of the zoo because we felt we were able to connect with and engage the gorillas. We even got to speak with the zoo staff again, asking all types of questions. When we finished our visit with the gorillas, it was time to head back to B-SAFE for dismissal.

From the conversations on the bus and the smiles on everyone's faces, I could tell that S. was not the only participant who had a good time exploring the animal kingdom at the zoo. All the youth had a wonderful time. Big thanks to Zoo New England for making this visit possible!

By D'Andra Evans, Site Assistant for B-SAFE at St. Stephen's LEARN

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Dede is a rising sophomore at Mars Hill University in North Carolina, where she is a Bonner Scholar studying nursing. (She first visited Mars Hill on a BRIDGE Scholar trip with St. Stephen's Youth Programs when she was in high school!) Dede has lived in Dorchester her whole life and attended Boston Public Schools from elementary through high school. Dede has been a member of the SSYP community for four years, starting as teen CIT (Counselor-In-Training) mentoring younger participants, then as a member of the Academic Team creating curriculum, and now as a Site Assistant helping to make sure the B-SAFE site at St. Stephen's in the South End runs smoothly. When she is not at SSYP, Dede enjoys listening to music and volunteering for various non-profits in North Carolina.


Do It Like YOU!

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Over the past twenty years, the B-SAFE Program (The Bishop's Summer Academic and Fun Enrichment Program) has grown from a small program in the South End with twenty-five elementary schoolers having tasty lunches, taking fun field trips, and making creative art to one of the largest summer programs in the Boston-area. This year, the B-SAFE community will span six neighborhoods, have nearly 500 elementary and middle schoolers developing their skills in Humanities and STEM (among other subjects), build the professional skills of 170 teens who will have paid jobs, and employ 90 adults as teachers, youth workers, and leaders. Over the past two decades, 7,000 unique young people have participated in and been formed by the B-SAFE Program.

Even as B-SAFE has grown, we have worked to maintain our model of individual attention and support for young people. B-SAFE's values of building a community where all people feel safe, feel big, and feel connected helps us create places and spaces where all youth feel loved and included; all teens try new things, make mistakes, and try again; and adults (both staff and volunteers) build meaningful relationships as mentors. B-SAFE emphasizes leadership development; one of our proudest statistics for this year is that just over 65% of our adult staff people are former B-SAFE participants or teen staff.

Yet, the numbers and growth tell only part of the story of B-SAFE. Over the first three days of July, our adult and teen staff came together for the B-SAFE training. Together, we got certified in first aid, learned more about how to implement B-SAFE's model of restorative justice, played a ton of games, practiced crossing the street safely, and got trained in supporting the academic components of the program. But, really? We build relationships. Our connections with each other --across differences of neighborhood, age, language, and culture--create a sense of cooperation and joy that we hope will inspire the young people so they do the same.

News of separation and divisiveness surrounds us and is creating a feeling for many of our B-SAFE families that they do not belong. B-SAFE offers a welcome antidote to this rhetoric with our theme for the summer, "Do It Like YOU!" from the movie Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Each B-SAFE community member's special and unique talents are to be celebrated. When we put these all together, we are stronger and better. And that is some Good News!

Could there be a more important way to spend these summer days than building friendships and increasing love? Come join us!

By Liz Steinhauser, Senior Director of Youth Programs

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Liz Steinhauser joined St. Stephen's staff as the Director of Youth Programs in August 2003. She brings over 30 years of professional training and experience as a youth worker and community organizer to the position. Liberation theology developed her commitment to social justice. Girl Scouts built her arts and crafts skills and her repertoire of goofy songs. She is a graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Divinity School and is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She lives in Roslindale with her modern family.