Pedro: Latino Outreach Program

Pedro moved to Syracuse from Coamo, Puerto Rico in 1998 at the age of 14. Due to the language barrier, he had a lot of trouble integrating into a new culture, and eventually got into trouble in school and on the street.

When the Latino Amigos Youth Program started, he was one of the first to be registered. Program staff and his school counselor developed a work plan for him to make school life less stressful due to the language barrier. This plan worked fine until he lost a close relative due to criminal violence. The situation so affected him that he started losing interest in the program and school. Things deteriorated to the point that he ran away from home. Since that time, Pedro has re-connected with the program at critical points in his life and received support and guidance.

Two years after he ran away from home, program staff found Pedro dealing drugs as they were doing outreach activities in the neighborhood. The staff invited him to visit the program again with “no strings attached.”

With the staff’s encouragement, Pedro took his GED and got a job. In 2004, Pedro became a father and confessed he wanted to give his son a better life than he had had with his own father. Catholic Charities staff supported his desires to increase his parenting skills.

Eventually, Pedro contacted staff looking for counseling on how to get back to school. He decided he wanted to study electronics. Last year, in 2009, he graduated as an electronic technician. As he said at graduation, “People and programs like yours must continue existing.”