The Y in Central Maryland Blog

Stories of Courage and Change: The Importance of a Good Handshake

Within the first five minutes of meeting Raynard, the gifted young writer of the poem below, one quickly understands why the 15-year-old has excelled in the Y’s New Horizons II summer enrichment and workforce development program.

Raynard is motivated, personable and understands the importance of a good handshake.

“When you go for an interview, you need to make eye contact, smile and come at them with a firm grip. That’s just one of the things the New Horizons program taught us.”

The Y’s New Horizons II program serves teens experiencing homelessness in Baltimore County and City. Participants receive academic and life skills support like how to apply for college, look for a job and deal with stress. They also put their newly acquired skills into action as paid interns with local employers.

When asked what advice he would give to other teens about to start the program Raynard says:

“The way I feel about it is that being involved in New Horizons is a way to keep yourself from feeling like you’re locked in. Because I’m pretty sure there are people out there not living in the best house. But the things you learn keep you going. New Horizons feels like a second family to me.

Below is the touching poem Raynard delivered at the New Horizons graduation ceremony earlier this year.


To get involved as a worksite host for students like Raynard or learn more, please contact Charmayne Turner at


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