A graduate of GAP School and YouthBuild St. Paul Westside, Boe Boe, has recently been recognized with the national 2023 YouthBuild AmeriCorps Spirit of Service Award.
Arriving in Minnesota at the age of 19 from a refugee camp in Thailand, Boe faced challenges that would deter most. However, his motivation caused him to pursue education at a local high school. Despite his desire to learn, he was forced to leave the school due to age limitations. This setback only made him more determined to succeed.
Enter GAP School, home to YouthBuild St. Paul Westside's construction program. Boe found his passion within the construction industry and embraced his education. Boe's journey wasn't solely about personal growth; it was about giving back and uplifting others.
His commitment to helping fellow YouthBuild students and the St. Paul community at large earned him the well-deserved YouthBuild USA Alumni of the Year award. This accolade was presented to him as part of the annual Spirit of Service Awards, an honor he received out of thousands of outstanding members nationwide.
At the center of Boe's service is his dedication to mentorship and volunteerism. Returning to the program over the years, he provided invaluable guidance to students and actively participated in construction projects. His contributions extended beyond the classroom, acting as an interpreter for students and families in need, showcasing his constant support for those around him.
From a determined student to a licensed realtor who's making a tangible impact on the lives of others, Boe has helped numerous students and fellow alumni achieve their dream of homeownership, solidifying his role as a community leader. Most recently, he represented the house built by YouthBuild St. Paul Westside participants.
"Boe has been a tremendously successful graduate and a great example for other students in our program," stated Tony Zahradka, Construction Career Pathway and YouthBuild St. Paul Westside program manager. Boe's story is a lesson of what can be achieved when education, mentorship, and dedication intersect. As he continues to represent the ideals of YouthBuild AmeriCorps, his legacy serves as a reminder that each of us has the potential to make a lasting impact.
About YouthBuild USA
YouthBuild's mission is rooted in empowering young individuals to realize their potential and create positive change within their communities. With over 280 programs across the United States and worldwide, YouthBuild provides a platform for students to reclaim their education, develop essential job skills, and become leaders in their communities. Since its inception in 1994, YouthBuild USA has been an AmeriCorps grantee, facilitating meaningful service opportunities for thousands of young people.
AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, provides opportunities for Americans to serve their country domestically, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, improve lives and communities, and strengthen civic engagement. Each year, the agency places more than 250,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles; and empowers millions more to serve as long-term, short-term, or one- time volunteers.
The Community & School Collaborative (CSC), a program of Change Inc., runs a school-based mental health therapist intern program each year. For the 2023-24 school year, we are happy to share we have thirteen wonderful individuals enrolled in the program. Each intern receives a $10,000 stipend paid over 10 months for their time and work, which is funded by the DHS School-Linked Mental Health grant and the Cultural Ethnic Minority Infrastructure grant.
The 13 interns will be a part of the cohort and are each assigned to a metro-area school:
Ruth Amerman (Saint Mary’s University, MFT) - Justice Page Middle School
Gladys Bari (North Central University, MFT) - Northview Middle School
Mikenna Becker (Saint Mary’s University, MFT) - Pillsbury Elementary School
Kalina Chang (University of Minnesota, MSW) - Four Seasons A+ Elementary School
Kelly Dempsy (College of Saint Catherine, BSW) - Edison High School
Maggie Jelinkski (University of Saint Thomas, Counseling Psych)- Marcy Open Elementary School
Fiama Kelleh (Augsburg College, MSW) - Green Central Elementary School
Camryn Kostic (University of Saint Thomas, MFT) - Northeast Middle School
Sasha Krueger (Saint Thomas, MFT) - Waite Park Elementary School
Bailey Loso (Saint Thomas, MSW) - Transition Plus Special Education
Mike Merino (University of Saint Thomas, Counseling Psychology) - Anwatin Middle School
Tiffany Xiong (University of Minnesota, MSW ) - Hmong International Academy
Wennicha Yang (University of Saint Thomas, MFT) - Edison High School
Our interns are graduate-level students pursuing degrees in psychology, counseling, social work, or a related field. They will undergo training and supervision to continue to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to provide effective mental health services to students, under the guidance of Change Inc.’s licensed mental health professionals.
Change Inc.’s interns will collaborate with school counselors, teachers, and administrators to identify students who may be struggling with various emotional and psychological challenges. Through individual or group counseling sessions, our interns can provide a safe and confidential space for students to discuss their concerns, learn coping strategies, and develop emotional resilience.
The presence of mental health interns in schools also helps to bridge the gap between the growing need for mental health support among students and the limited resources available in many schools. As future mental health professionals, our school-based internship provides valuable hands-on experience through interactions with diverse student populations. Here’s to a new school year!
Change Inc. is welcoming five new members to its’ Board of Directors as Delta Larkey, Ray Krause, Jose Santos Jr., Peter Hayden, and Annmarie Becker have completed two-year terms. Beginning their terms for fiscal year 2024 are Alfred Jaryan, Amy Lauricella, Jamil Payton, Karen Thompson (returning Board member), and Mitch Walking Elk. With an array of professional backgrounds, this group of individuals is well suited to provide guidance to Change Inc. as an organization. Learn more about the joining members below.
Alfred became a therapist after healing from his childhood trauma. He experienced nine years of civil war trauma in his homeland of Monrovia, Liberia before coming to the United States of America to start a new life. Alfred graduated with his master's degree as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Argosy University, Twin Cities in 2016 and now works as a Mental Health Supervisor for Fraser. Through his past, he recognized his passion for helping others overcome their underlying traumatic life experiences that cause various mental health challenges and believes people are worthy, despite their imperfections, wounded life experiences, and traumatic damages.
Alfred is currently working on publishing his first book with Wise Ink Publishing Company, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The book focuses on methods and concepts geared towards assisting people in the community to heal from cultural traumas through the development of four central healing foundations and the life healing model. His relationship and connection with Change Inc. and its mission provides him with the knowledge and understanding necessary to serve effectively during this stage of his professional ongoing learning career in the mental health field.
Amy Lauricella received her law degree from Northwestern School of Law and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the past decade, Amy has worked extensively on public policy issues pertaining to criminal justice reform and gender-based violence within state and international criminal and legal justice systems. Amy now works for the MN Department of Corrections as the Policy Director to identify gaps and inequities requiring legislative and internal policy change.
Amy’s legal career has also included roles at Standpoint, a statewide nonprofit providing legal advice and advocacy, technical assistance, and systems change through legal analysis for victims of violence, and Global Rights for Women (GRW), an international NGO dedicated to ending violence against women and girls through systems change. Prior to her nonprofit work, Amy worked as an employment attorney at Drinker, Biddle & Reath handling civil rights lawsuits with a robust pro bono practice working with victims of violence and immigrants in need of DACA and U-visa protection in Cook County, Illinois.
Jamil has been in the field of education for 22 years. In 1998, Jamil began as a social studies and language arts teacher in an alternative school in South Minneapolis. Since then, Jamil has been a family and cultural liaison, academic dean/school administrator, assistant principal, and principal. Jamil has worked at both private and public schools, including, most recently, Osseo Area Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools where he was the principal at Hmong International Academy. Currently, he is the principal in St. Paul Public Schools at Johnson High School. Jamil was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a graduate of De La Salle High School, Metropolitan State University, and Argosy University. He holds his K-12 Administrative Licensure from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and is currently completing his Superintendent Licensure from Minnesota State-Mankato.
Karen is a lifelong resident of St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood and has been involved in many of its community organizations. She came to GAP School after the United Way suggested to Sister Giovani, GAP’s founder, that she should get more people on the board with business backgrounds. Sister G attended a meeting in the community chaired by Karen and told Karen she was looking for a strong woman to join the board. After learning more about her, Sister G knew Karen was the person GAP needed.
Karen has worked at Securian for 40 years and has held many positions at the company. She also served as the international president of Executive Women International — an organization of over 1,000 career-oriented women in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Karen brings leadership and community involvement to what is now Change Inc., taking pride in the education and holistic support brought to students and families.
Mitch Walking Elk
Mitch retired in 2022 from his position at GAP School as the Coordinator of the Indigenous Youth Ceremonial Mentoring Society – a mentoring program he created. One of Mitch’s highest achievements in his work with Indigenous Youth was a project addressing the oppression and tragic consequences caused by the “doctrine of discovery” – he was able to bring his group of mentees to Rome to appeal to the Pope to repeal the Papal Bulls that support this doctrine. Mitch was born in Oklahoma and is an enrolled member of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma and he is part Hopi and Choctaw as well. Mitch is an accomplished singer, songwriter and musician. He has toured five continents and has nearly 20 tours of countries in Europe to his credit. In his retirement, he continues to tour and to advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world.