Ex-gangster turns life around with Job Corps

While some young Westchester and Hudson Valley residents are turning to gangs for acceptance, others are proving there's a better way.

Emanuel "Manny" Rivera, 22, was a gang member. "I didn't have a father there for me," Rivera said. "I didn't have nobody. I was in a shelter. I was living on trains, in parks. I seen a lot of young people come from crack, coke, drugs."

Rivera said he was eager to have a family and turned to a gang, but he later realized he wanted more for his life. "I was praying to God, you know, I hope my life changes, please."

Rivera's prayer was answered in the form of Job Corps, a free program started by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1964. He graduated from the program that helps youths find work. He now works at the Yonkers Raceway Casino.

Steve Alston, of the Glenmont Job Corps, serves as Rivera's adviser and continues to help the reformed gangster.

"Manny's a very good employee," said Concessions Manager Helen Sheridan. "He's very nice with the customers."

In fact, he was so good with customers that he was promoted to the position of security officer. Rivera now makes nearly twice the pay he made just last month and is looking forward to the birth of his baby girl with his wife.

Related information:U.S. Department of Labor1-800-733-JOBSSteve AlstonGlenmont Job Corps1-845-721-5094

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