Logo for: Connecticut Opportunity Project


Youth Leader | Our Piece of the Pie

When Shay turned 16, she wanted to get a job so that she could help her mom with expenses. But everywhere she applied, she was told they were looking for someone with experience. Then a friend told her to check out Our Piece of the Pie.

"I had a whole attitude when I came to OPP. I didn’t like Eboni at first, but she’s like my mom now. She’s like my best friend. Every time I need somebody to talk to, I always call her. Even with how I acted, she never gave up on me. She always made me feel like I was better than what I thought I was. She gave me a boost of self-confidence."

Shay was expecting to get a job just like any other at OPP, but then she found out that through the Hartford Youth Service Corps, she would be getting paid to help her community—something she had always wanted to do, but never knew where to start.  She participated in a lot of projects to clean up the streets in different neighborhoods in Hartford, which is something she feels makes a big difference in the community.  As part of the Hartford Youth Service Corps, she also started meeting regularly with Eboni, one of OPP’s Youth Development Specialists, who helped her start to set goals, like getting her permit and doing better in school, and work toward them.

Now Shay attends Manchester Community College, where she is working toward her associate’s degree.  From there, she wants to get her bachelor’s degree with a major in zoology and then go to veterinary school.

“There are a lot of kids here at OPP that might be angry and talk badly to their YDS, but they don’t let that stop them.  They let you know that’s not right, but they won’t give up on you, just because you made a mistake or you’re acting a certain way, they always know there’s a reason why,” Shay says.  “You won’t leave [OPP] the same way you came in.  You’ll leave better, with more resources, and a whole family behind you that is going to fight with you and always be in your corner to help you."