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.
Eventually, through community involvement, Michael ended up working in the youth services field, working with various organizations in the greater Boston area. This is where Michael found his passion for working with young people and seeking to change the communities that serve them. He found Roca in 2015 and was hired as a Youth Worker shortly after the opening of the Boston office.
In an Interview, Michael explained that he so loves his job because it gives him the opportunity to help young people to change their lives. He offers them resources and support which was unavailable to him at their age. In Michael’s words, “I really do care about the lives of the young people in this community. I want them to get it.” Roca has given him the tools to teach young people how to think different and to do different. He is on the ground, doing the work, helping young people to help themselves.
“I really do care about the lives of the young people in this community. I want them to get it.”
— Michael Bonds