Brad Levesque Youth Leadership Award
On May 25, 1996, Brad Levesque passed away after battling cancer for several years. Brad spent many of his teen years in foster care, all while fighting cancer. In his determination to not let cancer be his focus, Brad committed many of his years in care to help improve the lives of other teens in foster care.
Each year The Brad Levesque Youth Leadership Award will be given to a worthy youth or two in care who meet the criteria that Brad helped to develop…“Someone like me”, as Brad so aptly put it!
The recipient must be a youth in care between the ages of 15 and 21 who:
Demonstrate active volunteer capacity (i.e. community service, teen conference planning, etc.)
Are interested in pursuing education beyond high school
Maybe medically/physically challenged
May have resided in group/residential programs
May have participated in outdoor adventure programs
2019 Brad Levesque Youth Leadership Awardees
Allison (Ally) Mason
ALLISON (ALLY) MASON
Allison (Ally) Mason has been a dedicated and valuable YLAT member for the last 3 + years in Lewiston and has been a major support and encouraging presence for her twin sister to join YLAT and other youth / young adult opportunities.
At Lewiston meetings, Ally is bubbly and friendly, making other young people feel comfortable with her joyful presence. She has emerged as a leader in YLAT as demonstrated by her shoot up to volunteer, share her experiences, or answer questions.
Ally has shown leadership beyond YLAT as well. Ally has attended two New England Youth Coalition summer conferences in a virtual setting, which is challenging for anyone. She has also attended almost all of the Rising Leaders Training presented by YLAT and/or the Telling Room. It’s during this training, that Ally has become deeply passionate about her writing and collaborating with older alumni who share her interests.
Furthermore, Ally balances virtual and in-person offerings while participating in other youth/ young adult opportunities such as the 2021 Bryant Pond Outdoor Adventure days as well as Lewiston annual YLAT hikes. Ally loves to listen to music, sing, and draw. She has brightened the Lewiston YLAT group as well as the community at large.
Ally has signed the V9 Agreement and is currently applying for her first job. She has been very proacting asking in following her goals and asking for support when needed such as with interview prep.
This upcoming fall she plans to attend Central Maine Community college (CMCC), where she plans to continue to be actively engaged in the activities around her like she was in high school, by joining both technical classes and the key club.
When I think of the legacy of the young man whom this award is named for, I think of a young man who, despite challenges and struggles, continued to participate in YLAT and share his laugh, kindness, and spirit of warmth and hope to all those he met. The same can be said for Josh Small, On 3/11/20, Josh attended his first YLAT meeting. Right from his first meeting, Josh was enthusiastic and excited to meet new peers and adults and connect with these new friends with a shared history of foster care.
Josh has been an integral member of the Southern Maine YLAT community, consistently bringing positivity and energy to our spaces. Josh walks into each meeting with a broad smile and shows deep compassion for his peers and adult support by taking the time to talk to each YLAT member, asking questions about how they are, and sharing his own experiences. By jumping enthusiastically into new activities and sharing thoughtfully during group discussions, Josh leads by example and encourages his peers to be involved and engaged. Josh brings his full self to every meeting and training, and his sincerity helps create a safe and accepting space for all YLAT young people.
Immediately after Josh’s first YLAT meeting, the initial stages of the pandemic lockdown went into effect, and as a result, in-person meetings were put on hold. Josh attended the first virtual YLAT meeting on 05/13/20 and surprised many staff and peers by remembering the names and little details of each person he met at his first meeting. Josh continued to attend several virtual YLAT events and training throughout 2020. He would always contribute, share his thoughts and listen to others in a format that was certainly new and different. Josh took the time to check in with each adult and peer he cared about and ask them about their day.
In the fall of 2020, the Southern Maine YLAT team could meet again in person, and Josh could return to school as well. Josh worked hard to complete his senior year at South Portland High School, graduating in June of 2021. During 2021 Josh tried many new things while participating in YLAT events and attending Bryant Pond. Josh learned about knitting at one YLAT event, and he stepped boldly out of his comfort zone at Bryant pond when he tried canoeing and rock wall climbing for the first time. Josh would embrace these new experiences despite his fears, which served as a model for other youth who felt fearful or apprehensive. In this way, Josh is a true leader.
Josh is a young man who strives always to do his best; he is on time, always prepared, and ready for meetings and events. He genuinely cares about everyone he meets. He loves animals, and he enjoys fishing and various outdoor activities. He participates in STRIVE events and always gives his best. Josh joined workforce readiness training this year, where he showed great interest and commitment to learning about various jobs and educational pathways. He graduated from South Portland in 2021 and is working on his post-secondary goals with Vocational Rehab.
Josh is not a young man who is willing to give up easily in the face of challenges, and he encourages others to do the same. Josh has goals of improving his independent living skills, and he enjoys learning new skills to improve himself daily. Josh is very proud to share with others the things he is learning about job skills, cooking, and daily living skills. Even when things seem hard, Josh reminds us to Just Keep Going because every experience helps us learn and grow and that sometimes the best thing to do is show up, smile, and ask the first person we see, “How are you? How was your day?”
Past Brad Levesque Award Recipients:
2021: Julianna Morningstar & Genesis Edwards · 2020: Natalie Watson-Todd & Michael Brickle · 2019: Tiffani Melia & Morgan Beals · 2018: Anna Chabot & Sophia Dunton · 2017: Jason Mulvey & Gianna Gaudet · 2016: Jacob Hills & Alexander Buzzell · 2015: Tia Knowlton-Basford & Isabelle Goodrich · 2014: Chrystal Inman & Kyle Snyder · 2013: Tyneshia Wright & Stephanie Gerard · 2012: Mariah Trimble-Smith & Casey Smith · 2011: Joshua Calcia · 2010: Sylvia Little & Shannon Jacobson · 2009: Victoria “Torry” Bernard · 2008: Vanessa Bridge & Paula Burrows · 2007: Chanthy Like · 2006: Kala Clark & Ashley Keiran · 2005: Johanna Rhodes & Brystle Noble · 2004: William Lane & Roxanne Carpentier · 2003: Edward Schnopp · 2002: Crystal Castro · 2001: Maria Gordon & John Rutterford · 2000: Jennie Hinckley · 1999: Christina Irvine · 1998: Jay Dymond · 1997: Corey McLaughlin · 1996: Leticia Jacques · 1995: Wayne Johnson · 1994: Brad Levesque