Nonprofit helps at-risk youths

MissionSAFE, located at 1481 Tremont St., is a nonprofit dedicated to helping at-risk youths. Its signature program, the Youth Leadership Service Corps (YLSC), recently held a back-to-school drive at Brigham Circle.

Alex Danesco, development director at MissionSAFE, said about 300 items were collected during the drive and given to residents of local housing developments and throughout Mission Hill. “It’s pretty impressive,” said Danesco. “I find it very inspiring.”

Danesco said that YLSC is a year-round program that does different things throughout the year. During the summer, the group splits up. One half participates in a poetry workshop, while another portion does internships, at such places as the State House, law offices and hospitals.

During the school year, YLSC members attend after-school workshops that teach them about conflict resolution and prepare them to be leaders. Members are also peer leaders for young children, do community service and visit colleges.

Danesco said most members are referred to the program, but MissionSAFE is open to anyone joining.

“We’re open to as many young people as we can,” he said.

Danesco said most members have been exposed to trauma or have been in proximity to gang warfare or drug distribution. He said studies have shown being exposed to such events at an early age have a major impact on the development of the brain.

Danesco said those impacted tend to be in survival mode and not experiencing life as a young person should be. They struggle to communicate and succeed academically.

“Our program is sensitive to that,” he said.

Danesco said MissionSAFE, which also has an office in Charlestown, works hard for young people to get through high school, to get through college and work to a positive future.

“They will live a normal life that they wouldn’t be able to do without programs like ours,” he said.

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