Roca’s Mission is to Disrupt the Cycle of Incarceration and Poverty by Helping Young People Transform Their Lives.
How we do it?
October 4, 2016
When she founded the youth nonprofit Roca outside Boston in 1988, Molly Baldwin was a hell-raiser. “We were a big pain in the butt…
September 23, 2016
Retiring Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr. is used to getting accolades pitched his way, and Thursday night he scored points for his love of sports.
August 30, 2016
Eight young moms in the Boston area are getting a new start in life after completing a pharmacy technician training program through a partnership with CVS Health and a Massachusetts nonprofit…
August 26, 2016
Two Second Chance Act (SCA) grantees based in Massachusetts, were highlighted in a recent report by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for their innovative approaches to working with young adults.
Participant, Young Men’s Program, Springfield
On the first day Josh walked into Roca, 2 years ago, he had no idea his life was about to change. Josh came to Roca after being released from jail where he had been locked up for two months and as a result lost his job and his apartment. He was struggling to get by and did not want to go back to the life he’d lived before. When he first came to Roca he thought he had it all figured out. He would go in and get a job and that would be it. This turned out to be just the beginning of what he would do with Roca and with his life.
First, Josh was assigned his youth worker, Pat. For a full month, Pat reached out to Josh every day and Josh would not respond, he didn’t trust him. After this month, Josh started to answer his calls and to talk to him. They began to grow their relationship. Now, Josh feels he is close with Pat, that they “have a good bond. We talk about things, we argue, sometimes he really pisses me off, but we get through it. We go out to eat, go to the movies. If I need anything, he’ll pick me up. He’s just always there”. 791Read More
“My Youth Worker and I have a good bond. We talk about things, we argue, sometimes he really pisses me off, but we get through it. We go out to eat, go to the movies. If I need anything, he'll pick me up. He's just always there”
Participant, Young Men’s Program, Chelsea
Tyler King was raised by his father in Revere. By the time he graduated from high school, Tyler was an alcoholic, drinking heavily and hanging out in the streets. Angry and easily provoked, he caught multiple assault charges. In fall 2013, the Chelsea District Court referred Tyler to Roca, and his name landed on the case list of Josiah Hill, Roca’s Youth Worker in Revere.
Josiah located Tyler, but Tyler continually brushed him off. “I didn’t think I could change,” Tyler remembers, “and I didn’t think it was worth anyone’s time to try to get me to change.” Undeterred, Josiah stopped by Tyler’s house every day for a month. Having no luck with Tyler, Josiah gained the confidence of Tyler’s grandmother and father. Finally, Josiah knocked at the door one day and found Tyler’s father at home. He let Josiah in and pointed him toward Tyler’s room. At last, Tyler relented. 1130Read More
“I used to worry that that my brother would go down the wrong path, like I did. Now I tell him he’s got to go to college, too.”
— Tyler King
Participant, Young Mothers’ Program, Chelsea
When Zulma sits at her desk at the Department for Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), working on the scanning project she was hired to do, it is a powerful reality that she has come a long way. For the last six months Zulma has held this same steady job which has allowed her to support herself and her two children. She has grown professionally, and socially as she learns to speak up more and enjoy her time with her co-workers. This is not the life that Zulma was living before.
Zulma came to Roca 2 years ago to gain independence from her overbearing partner. She wanted a life where she was able to make her own money and choose how to take care of her children. She did not have her GED, she was in a challenging, sometimes violent relationship. This was a drain on her energy and she struggled to maintain a job. Eventually, she became connected with her youth worker Patricia and Roca. At first, Zulma had a difficult time showing up for the program. She felt intimidated at what she was being asked to accomplish and felt like she couldn’t do anything. 786Read More
“I learned to look for the people who can help me. Now I know everyone, I know who to talk to if I need help”
Youth Worker, Young Men’s Program
Day to day, Michael Bonds can be found, in a neon green shirt, driving a 15 seater Roca van, searching for and engaging 25 of the highest risk young men in the city of Boston. Michael asks them to come with him on a journey to change their lives. Michael Bonds is a youth worker at Roca Boston.
Michael describes his early life as similar to that of many young people served by Roca. Born and raised in Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston, he was in a similar cycle of crime and incarceration, ultimately spending 10 years in prison, 3 of those in solitary confinement. This incarceration and release motivated Michael to change the way he had been living. He no longer wanted the life he had been living and wanted a change.
From his release in 2000, Michael embarked on a long hard road. Most businesses in Boston were not willing to hire someone with a criminal record. He began lying on applications just to get hired. This resulted in a revolving door of jobs, all lost when his criminal record was discovered. Despite a lack of support from the outside world, Michael continued to pursue work and a life that was stable and sustainable. 793Read More
“I really do care about the lives of the young people in this community. I want them to get it.”
— Michael Bonds
Staff, Young Mothers’ Program
Gina Josette works with the Young Mother’s program at Roca. She wears a lot of hats as a Program Coordinator, Youth Worker and Educational Development team member. Right now, she spends a good deal of her days putting out fires, helping participants in Roca’s High Risk Young Mothers Program to address situations in their lives that make long term stability difficult for themselves and their children. When she is not firefighting, Gina is constantly coming up with and implementing ideas of how to prevent crisis, how she can help to create programming that mitigate risks for the young women she works with.
Gina said “I want to be the person I wish I had when I was young, I think I saw that graffiti on a wall or something but it is true, I always think about that.” She considers her role at Roca to be someone the participants will know is there for them without judgment. She thinks it’s important to not just be a mentor but to help be a translator to a world a lot of the young women didn’t even know existed before Roca, a translator to a life without violence and poverty, a translator to an education they might not have thought possible before and a translator to a better life. 784Read More
“I want to be the person I wish I had when I was young, I think I saw that graffiti on a wall or something but it is true, I always think about that.”
— Gina Josette