By Graham Kilmer
On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
It was a call for justice and equality. It was a harangue for freedom. Many answered King’s call for change. That spirit lives on today.
All over the country, people fight for the rights of others. Here in Milwaukee, there are organizations that strive to better the lives of those who have spent so long with so little opportunities afforded to them.
Career Youth Development Inc. (CYD) is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the residents of Milwaukee since 1970. CYD’s mission is simple: to assist those who need help turning their lives in a positive direction.
Through a number of programs and workshops they help local residents make changes in their life that may not have been achieved otherwise.
One of these programs is the First Time Home Buyer Program. Shirley Lowrey, the Department Manager and educator for the program, has been helping people buy their first home through the First Time Homebuyer Program for 18 years. Lowrey helps local residents of low to moderate income get into their first home.
“Most of these people never thought they could have their own home.” says Lowrey. Lowrey believes that if CYD was not in this community most of these people would not have been helped.
According to Lowrey, “CYD would not be able to do what it does today,” had it not been for Martin Luther King’s leadership and movement that spurred equality and diversity Fifty-two years ago, Martin Luther King spoke of his dream, and thanks to him and people like Lowrey are achieving dreams of their own.
The First Time Home Buyer Program is “showing people dreams can happen.”
Lowrey says, “They can have the American dream.” This idea rings true for Eric Barksdale, a resident of Milwaukee and graduate of CYD’s First Time Home Buyer Program.
Barksdale was formerly incarcerated and says that, while he was incarcerated, he spent a lot of time reading and educating himself.
He soon realized that when he got out he wanted to do something positive for his life, his family, and for his community. He wanted a piece of the American dream.
Barksdale wanted a home he could call his own. Once released, he joined CYD’s program.
“They walk you through everything step-by-step.” says Barksdale.
Barksdale says he was daunted by the task of buying his own home, because of his poor credit history and financial situation.
Once he started the program he says he found himself asking, “Can this really happen”?
Upon completing the program, Barksdale had bought his first home.
“That was part of the dream I wanted.” says Barksdale, “buying a house; having some equity.”
Barksdale lives with his two daughters and fiancée. He will have been in his home two years this April.
“I feel more a part of our country.” says Barksdale, “I’m a part of something bigger.”