Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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Biography
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  Rebecca Yenawine
  Youth Advocate and Community Organizer
  Baltimore WWD Event 2002
  Born in 1972
  Founder of Kids on the Hill, a non-profit after-school arts program for inner-city children
 
Biography  up to top

Rebecca Yenawine was born in 1972 and raised in both New York City and upstate New York. She has had a long-standing interest in community work. In High School Yenawine volunteered as a youth mediator between parents and young people, created a bias awareness group and took care of children in a battered women's shelter. Because of her interest in art and painting, she attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in the heart of Baltimore city. This experience introduced her to the neighborhood of Reservoir Hill, a mixed but mainly low-income African American area of the city. With the help of her family, Yenawine bought a large row-house on "The Hill", putting down roots in an area many sought to leave.

Before graduating from college, Yenawine already had the idea of integrating her artistic talent with her commitment to grassroots community service and education. After catching some teenaged girls with spray paint cans in hand, intent on graffiti, she began to give free art lessons to the girls and other neighborhood kids. Opening her home to the neighborhood youth, she continued to offer art related activities and a safe place to "hang-out" away from the corner drug trade.

What began in 1994 as an informal initiative rapidly became a structured five-day-a-week after-school and summer program. Today this same program employs several full and part-time employees. At the core of each project are four goals. The first is to give a creative, constructive release and educational experience for the children directly involved. Second, the projects aim to provide much needed beautification of the neighborhood. Third, the programs foster supportive long-term relationships between young people and adults. Finally, activities serve as a catalyst for social change by giving a "voice" to inner city young people. This serves to demonstrate that, despite the problems of this part of the city, there is pride, creativity and a sense of community that has the power, albeit slowly, to transform the district into a better place for all.

Specifically targeting youth identified as likely to drop out of school, at risk for drug abuse or unintended pregnancy, the Kids on the Hill currently supports up to 40 youth between the ages of 7 and18, and provides mentoring to 35 children in a variety of ways. In 1999, Yenawine successfully gained non-profit status and formerly launched her programs under the auspices of "Kids on the Hill" . In the future, Yenawine plans to extend the program into a Charter High School.

 
What She Said  up to top
ON JEWISH VALUES
I think that being Jewish has had an impact on my ability to be bold in situations ...More 
ON FAMILY UPBRINGING
[Judaism] was not ingrained in my daily life, it was much more of a cultural experience for me. ...More 
ON ROLE MODELS
There is no one person that I can say: 'This person has taught me all I need to know ...More 
The biggest gift that my parents gave me was treating me with complete respect ...More 
ON BEING A WOMAN ACTIVIST
I think that being socialized as a woman is useful because my skills in relationship building ...More 
ON WORK AND FAMILY
My family is incredibly supportive.... I used to bring kids ...More 
ON PATH TO ACTIVISM
[I went to] a very small [high] school and once a week I would volunteer in the kindergarten ...More 
I think [also] being an artist aligns you with people ...More 
My father is a gay man and through the eighties he watched many (and we all watched many) of our friends die of AIDS. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON WORLD
I think [social change] is definitely my focus and I don't know that [the kids] always have a picture of how important what they're saying is ...More  Audio available
Our very first project [for Kids on the Hill] happened in 1997 when I caught a couple of teenagers spray painting in the neighborhood. ...More 
It is important to offer young people skills and opportunities but it also extremely important that you form a relationship ...More 
ON IMPACT ON SELF
There is so much I get out of doing this work that I wouldn't trade the gifts I get from young people for anything. ...More 
ON CHALLENGES
Money is always hard.... It's frustrating how much time and effort it takes to raise the money ...More 
There are people who don't understand where the kids are coming from ...More 
ON REWARDS
I think for the most part people are very appreciative of the fact that we are here. ...More 
 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Audio Clips Audio 
Answer - Impact on World (Rebecca Yenawine - kids)
 up to top

How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Rebecca Yenawine." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pryenawine>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Rebecca Yenawine," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=pryenawine>.