My Letter to the YouthBuild Philly Graduates

As a Saint-Gobain employee, I can personally say that attending the YouthBuild Philly graduation ceremony put into perspective for me not only how our company contributes to the lives of these amazing preserving students, but also what these students contribute to us as employees and partners. 

Students and family gathering outside of the YouthBuild graduation at Zion Baptist church.

 This was my first YouthBuild graduation. I expected it to be like every other graduation ceremony I’ve attended, but boy was I wrong. There were laughs, tears, celebration, dancing, preaching and a lot of joy, support and pride in the room.

During the graduation ceremony a few students shared their individual stories about homelessness, death, young parenthood and the struggle to balance these life situations and education. Me being the big baby that I am, the tears started to flow. I was moved.

As a company we provide students with expertise, product and time, but nothing compares to what the students have provided us. These students have shown me that you can be whatever you want to be. I know, that sounds cliché, but it’s true.

I feel the most fulfilled at work when I interact with the students at YouthBuild. Whether it’s in Philly, Akron, Schenectady or Worcester, these students are fighters and share a common thread…tenacity. I thank the YouthBuild students for sharing their stories. You guys will change the world. You are changing the world.

Your life is a testament, no matter how big or small the story, you have the ability to affect change and to move others by just sharing.

Never forget the tough environment you’ve outgrown. It made you, but it didn’t break you. You are able to face the challenges ahead of you knowing that you overcame something that a lot of your future peers and colleagues wouldn’t last a day in. Stay focused and driven. Congratulations to all of the YouthBuild Philly graduates.


 – Felicia Melvin, Communications Specialist for Saint-Gobain 

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