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Articles / Majors & Careers / My Community Needs Help. How Can I Give Back?

My Community Needs Help. How Can I Give Back?

P Written by Possible Dreams, Possible Paths | June 9, 2021

Yasmin wants to work in the medical field to help others heal.

"I wanna make a difference in my community starting by taking a risk and stepping outside my comfort zone."

Watch the video and real the full transcript below

"Just throughout years I faced different life things that can really get you down and keep you there. But I had to tell myself that I need to be better than what I was giving myself and what it was already offered to me. Where I am right now in my life, I want to know what I'm capable of and actually go out there and do it. I'm tired of talking about it. I wanna do it. I wanna make a difference in my community starting by taking a risk and stepping outside my comfort zone.

You know I am, I'm gonna be extra, I got it [LAUGH]

Okay. I am the fantabulous Yasmin Tolbert. I'm 24 years old.

I live in a city outside of Chicago called Harvey, Illinois. Right now I'm currently in a CNA hoping to be a patient care tech in this fall. My main focus is the medical field. I would like to pour back into those who poured into me, especially just brought to healing."

Can you share a challenge you’ve faced and how it shaped you?

"Our city alone is behind in a lot of debt. So a lot of people in our city struggle with keeping up with bills because we have a building in our city called Sita, and Sita pretty much helps almost the whole community pay their bills. So right now, bills is the biggest thing that people deal with but outside of the bills, it's a lot of crime that goes on.

My dad was incarcerated when I was six months. Pretty much our environment kinda got the best of him at the time. And growing up I faced challenges with that and seeing everybody else play with their dad but you can't play with yours or something as simple as me going to see my dad. Like I was a kid that didn't ask for Barbies. I didn't want toys. I wanted to see him. I knew who my dad was growing up but not having him there physically.

I kinda took advantage of that, to a certain extent, it was almost as if him not being there was kind of my excuse for certain things happening. Unconsciously I started trying to find my father in different men, and it wasn't working. I started to look for the old image of my dad which was the person who was not doing what he needed to do. So I started going after that and just the bad boy look right and that's when I got sucked into my community and I actually got involved in habits that everybody else had around me, not the strong ones that you couldn't just go up but… I actually experienced how it felt to try to take a pain relief - using a substance. I will say it actually made me more miserable, to be honest, because when you get up lifted for that moment when you come down it's back to reality is no faking it. And I didn't like the feeling of escaping my reality with still being in it. And when I came back I realized it wasn't right. So I had to physically tell myself you have to find a different outlet.

My outlet was going to work. If I'm at work, I can't get into any trouble. I can't get sucked into anything else. So I started working a whole lot of hours just to help my mom out a little bit more. I had a lot of stuff on my plate and then not to mention, my mom got behind on bills. So now home is falling apart and to top it all off I lost my job. What do I do from here? Do I keep stressing out and falling out and going into this spiral pattern and my community says okay? Or do I find another outlet?"

What keeps you motivated?

"My mom is always having me in programs. I went to different programs throughout my whole childhood. They kept me out of trouble and I loved it. I started talking to mentors that I had in the past because I did a few programs growing up.

One program that was very vital to me was Registration Ministries. I've met all my lifelong friends there. I'm not gonna lie, Registration Ministries gave me a family outside of home. All of that stuff I was going through even before my adult life, when I would go through that stuff, I came there and I let it all out, and I let it out positively. I let it out around peers that was going through the same thing as me, and to adults that didn't look at me as a misfit or as a child who didn't wanna learn.

They looked at me with love and said, 'Okay, I've been through something, I'm gonna help you get through what you're going through.'

It gave me my true outlet to not put my mind on the bad stuff, to not just fall into the stuff that my community was putting me in, but to put myself to work. And that's the biggest thing that kept me out of the way, right? I work, work, work, work, work, but I don't always look at it as work I look at it as giving back.

I've seen someone feel at their lowest. And just by me just giving the vibe and giving them a little piece of advice, or even just a little word of encouragement, I've seen how good that made them feel. And actually, it showed in their performance. So, why not go beside yourself and give someone a little bit of you? Everything I went through was a big roller coaster, just up and down, and up and down. But hey, I'm the conductor on it, so I'm okay with that."

Want more inspiring videos and real student stories?

Up Next: David, 15 years old

Owning My Identity and Fighting Disenfranchisement

David's not sure yet if he wants to be a politician, a musician, or an actor, but he's clear on one thing: his commitment to social justice

"I know all this stuff...I don't want to just sit with it all up in my head and just continue to think about it. I want solutions. I want to take action. I want to try to remedy these problems."

Written by


Possible Dreams, Possible Paths

Created through a partnership between educational nonprofit Roadtrip Nation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Possible Dreams, Possible Paths allows students to connect to stories and experiences from their peers, through video interviews centered around topics like mental health, plans beyond high school, social issues, family and responsibilities.

Explore the website for more inspiring, real-life stories and resources for students.

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