Paddling for her peers...


A year ago, 15-year-old Yormeliz arrived in Camden from Puerto Rico, faced with a difficult transition. It must have felt like rowing a boat upstream: new high school, new friends, a new city, a new culture.

Yormeliz confronted her fears one by one, paddling onward, and often against the current.

There was the language barrier: stepping into classes taught in English when your primary language is Spanish would be daunting for any of us. Her entrance exam for high school revealed a 3rd-grade reading level. Yormeliz studied with vigor, attained a 3.8 GPA last year, and now reads at a 9th-grade level.

The next challenge was participating in the UrbanTrekker Program, bringing a whole different set of firsts: sleeping in a tent in the wilderness, canoeing in the Pine Barrens, cooking on a Coleman stove, and catching lobsters in Maine. You guessed it: Yormeliz rose to each occasion, and so grew as a person.

And she’s just getting started!

This July, Yormeliz will paddle 52 miles along the Delaware River—from Trenton to Wilmington—to enable 100 of her Camden peers to work this summer at UrbanPromise.

Yormeliz is paddling for her peers.

She isn’t daunted by the fundraising goal of $80,000, which will enable UrbanPromise to remain Camden’s largest employer of teens. Helping to get her friends off the streets and employed in full-time, 8-week jobs as counsellors, coaches, and mentors for younger children in our UrbanPromise summer camps is a challenge she’s willing to embrace.

“When an experience comes up,” Yormeliz says, “and I catch it in my eyes, I have to do it! I must take every opportunity that is offered to me. It’s important for kids like me to have jobs. Paddling for a few days is the least I can do.”

Will you support Yormeliz in her journey?  Every dollar pledged towards Yormeliz’s paddle on the Delaware goes directly to employing teens this summer.

And for every $50 donated, UrbanPromise can keep a teen on payroll for a day, engaging those teens in programs that teach leadership skills, provide academic enrichment, and foster spiritual and social support.

Let’s applaud Yormeliz for her courageous spirit, her tenacity, and her commitment to her city. Let’s tell all our teens that we value their willingness to work. Please help UrbanPromise recognize their diligence with employment this summer.

Yormeliz looks forward to hearing from you!


Bruce Main

PS: Did I tell you that Yormeliz wants to go to medical school and become a cardiologist? How’s that for an audacious dream? I believe she’ll do it.