YouthBuild Lake County Pays Tribute to Donors

Wednesday, Oct. 12 donors, local elected officials and friends of YouthBuild Lake County gathered for their 4th Annual Donor Appreciation Event.

Guests who supported the organization this past year through donations, in-kind gifts and services were treated to catered cocktails and hors d’oeuvres amid luxury automobiles, and learned firsthand from program trainees how their lives have changed for the better since joining the program.

Board Chairman Edward Polen of EMCO Chemical Distributors, Inc., graciously welcomed and thanked the evening’s attendees for their part in bringing hope to those who need it most. He was followed by Executive Director Laurel Tustison, who spoke of how the challenges of the past year ultimately turned into great opportunities for trainees and the organization. But the star of the program was trainee Moneisha Wallace. At YouthBuild for just under two months, she explained how the challenges of past lifestyle decisions and the need for a GED brought her to the organization. Now that her goal of attending Jackson State University to study Interior Design is within her reach, her heartfelt appreciation was acknowledged not only in her tearful eyes, but those of the guests too.

The overriding message from beginning to end was gratitude for all of those who have stepped up to support this organization that helps so many young people. Without YouthBuild Lake County, these trainees would not have the opportunity they need to complete their education and gain employment. As Laurel Tustison put it, “The trainee’s desire to change provides great hope for their future and the future of organizations like ours that bring needed services to the youth of Lake County.”Non-profit,

The final touch was the parting gift – individually wrapped sugar cookies personalized with handwritten thank you notes from program trainees. As many guests commented, the event was wonderful and inspiring, from the trainees to the venue itself.

About YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC): YouthBuild Lake County is a non-profit organization that helps youth and adults in Lake County improve their education, learn job and life skills, and secure meaningful employment. While in YBLC’s programs, trainees work to build affordable, energy-efficient housing and rehabilitation projects in the community.  Over 50% of our participants dropped out of high school, 80% were involved in gangs, and about 35% are parents. Every YBLC graduate represents a life lifted, a family saved from poverty, and a community served. YouthBuild Lake County is affiliated with YouthBuild USA, voted among the nation’s most effective non-profit organizations because of its successful partnering with local community businesses to reach its goals. For more information, visit

Lead photo credit: Tamra Polen, YBLC Board Chair Edward Polen, and Trainee Norris-Ann