Maxiel Beltre always seems to have a smile on her face, but she has certainly seen her share of sorrow. When she interviewed to join the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) as a Youth Literacy Tutor, her interviewer thought that she didn’t fit the mold of the youths HSTF serves—she seemed too smart, too mature, too in control of her life. But that impression was far from the truth—Maxiel had been struggling to hold her life together since her mother died of cancer when she was very young. Maxiel, at the ripe old age of 14, came face to face with the trials and responsibilities of adulthood.
For a time, Maxiel and her sister, just one year older, were able to get by. Eventually it seemed best for Maxiel to move to the Dominican Republic to live with the father she barely knew. She stayed for two years, but actually felt less supported there than she did with her sister nearby. She returned to Boston in the summer of 2008 and bounced from one relative’s apartment to another. It is a terrible feeling, to view oneself as a constant burden, but Maxiel knew that her only alternative was sleeping on the streets.
Maxiel’s friends, who were already involved with HSTF, knew she needed a job. More importantly, they knew she needed the support of the caring adults and peers she would find at HSTF. She was hired as a Youth Literacy Tutor in July 2008 and quickly became immersed in her task of teaching younger children to read and write. It inspired within her a renewed sense of the importance of her own education—she transferred to an alternative high school and was soon on the path to graduation.
“Hyde Square Task Force provides really great support. They help you figure out where you want to go, and they can give you a little push to help you get there. I learned how to persevere at HSTF—even though times were tough, I was able to get through it,” she said recently.
With the help of HSTF’s Paths to College and Careers Program, Maxiel, now 18, received the support she needed to succeed in high school and explore her college and career options. Ultimately, Maxiel decided that she would attend Bunker Hill Community College and work part-time to save money for a future transfer to a four-year university.
HSTF provided a family and a home-away-from-home when Maxiel needed it the most. And like a family, HSTF stands by Maxiel to this day. She currently works as a part-time assistant to a young girl’s empowerment program and continues to work with a college coordinator as she decides which of the many paths before her she would like to follow.
Submitted by the Hyde Square Task Force.