As a young girl growing up on the upper south side of Youngstown Ohio, there were very few opportunities for me to experience the world outside of these small town walls. I came from a single parent household where my mother did everything she could to provide myself and my two siblings with the necessities of life.It was my mother’s example that always reminded me that I came from a long line of strong beautiful women of color, and this was something that I would somehow have to carry on. One day I was introduced to an after school program called Y.U.M.A.D.A.O.P which changed my life by changing my environment. Y.U.M.A.D.A.O.P opened my eyes to the possibilities that existed outside of the Southside of Youngstown, Ohio. I took my first trip outside of the state, on a college tour with Y.U.M.A.D.A.O.P, an opportunity I had never had before the age of 15. It was your program that taught me the principles of Kwanzaa, and also affording the opportunity to go horseback riding for the first time. These were just a few of the amazing opportunities I received through Y.U.M.A.D.A.O.P. These things meant the world to me because I felt cared for and important. To know that someone outside of my own family would take the time to enrich my life meant the world to me. This program created in me an excitement that gave me the courage to believe in myself and in others. Y.U.M.A.D.A.O.P gave me the opportunity to learn about my culture as an African American female, giving me excellent role models in those that they employed, and the chance to developed confidence, pride in community, and a self-awareness that has allowed me to become successful in the United States Air Force today. I would personally like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the men and women of the Y.U.M.A.D.A.O.P. You have defiantly made a difference in the lives of those that you have extended your hand to. I am grateful to have been a part of your program.