This man is a role model for incarcerated kids. Why? He used to be one of them.
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For kids who have grown up in low-income neighborhoods, it can be hard to see a way out.

Seeing the adults around them stuck in the same cycle of poverty, a lot of kids find it hard to believe that there’s any opportunity for them to be different — to be the ones who make it out and carve out a different way of life. The American Dream seems too elusive. Like it doesn’t apply to them.

Robert Clark was one of these kids.

After losing his mother at a young age, Robert turned to the wrong people for guidance. That, paired with the limited resources in his neighborhood, meant that he found himself going down a path that would almost guarantee continual incarceration. Or death.


Robert Clark. All images via Starbucks. Used with permission.

When he was released from prison at 21, he'd had enough. He wanted out of the life he was living. He cut ties with the people he’d been hanging around and tried to carve out a new life for himself. But it wasn’t until he ran into an old friend that he found direction. This friend told him about YouthBuild.

Check it out:

YouthBuild provides troubled youth a path to success with a program that gives back to the community by building affordable housing and offering continued education. A Starbucks original series.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, September 26, 2016

YouthBuild is a program that helps low-income kids, like Robert, who have dropped out of school to pursue their GED.

When they’re not studying, they’re building housing for the homeless and low-income families in their own neighborhoods.

"We discover that there is an enormous range of talent that is being locked out of society," said Dorothy Stoneman, founder of the program. "But if the young people are given an opportunity they will seize it."

It’s a two-fold approach. The kids working on bettering themselves while doing something for people who are, in many ways, worse off than they are or in circumstances they’ve experienced. It shows them the path forward while giving them the chance to help others move forward, too.

YouthBuild offers hope.  It offers structure. It offers expectations. And the kids rise to the occasion.

Today, Robert is the first YouthBuild graduate to found and lead a YouthBuild program.

He has a passion for helping others to see their way out of the lifestyle he once lived. He knows these kids. He gets them. And he’s committed to helping them.

Because he was once one of them.

"The early months of the YouthBuild program was a magical experience for me," said Robert. "It introduced me to a voice that I didn’t know I had. It was the greatest lesson for me about the power of love, opportunity, and expectation ... they expected that I would be something. And they loved me until I learned to love myself.”

YouthBuild is definitely about learning and building, but equally importantly, it's about community.

The kids who are served by the program need people to talk to who understand where they’ve been and can show them a new path forward. Someone to believe in them in order to see and believe in better for themselves. Someone to give them hope.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less