Karinda Shanes is more than a leader of the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection program—she’s also a mom who’s seen first-hand how HWSC can help young people succeed.

HWSC is dedicated to empowering youth success and reversing the trend of low high school graduation rates. The core of the program is a close relationship between participating students and their Youth Advocate (YA), a professional placed in their school who provides structure and motivation.

Today, Shanes is Regional Executive Director of HWSC in the Syracuse, Binghamton and Union-Endicott school districts. But she’ll never forget how she and her husband found support and partnership from the YAs who worked with their sons Quintin and Armondo while they studied at Syracuse’s ITC and Corcoran high schools, respectively.

Shanes says her sons’ YAs were a lifeline for the whole family. “Our Youth Advocates were incredible,” she recalls. “They were my eyes and ears when I couldn’t be there. They helped my boys with essays, resume building, and other critical skills. They provided educational, social, and emotional support.”

Following four years working with YA Renita Adams at Corcoran, Karinda’s middle son Armondo earned his diploma and went on to graduate from Syracuse University; he now works for the Department of Public Health in Syracuse.

Over at ITC, YA Darnell Sampson was a powerful force in the life of Quintin, the Shanes’ youngest son. That partnership kept Quintin academically focused, with outstanding results: He graduated from ITC with a year of college credit, and is currently enrolled in Syracuse University.

“You must have the highest level of trust with YAs,” Shanes adds. “They are shaping your children’s lives. The work they do is tremendous, personal, and leaves a lasting impression.”

A few years later, those experiences influenced her decision to take a leadership role with the program that had immensely helped her and her family—to ensure HWSC can help even more sons and daughters in need. “This is my purpose,” she says. “This is what I’m supposed to be doing for our youth.”

HWSC depends on community generosity to serve students in need. Donate today.

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