Shine A Light: Darrin McCall, Changing Things For The Better

How successful are you with your New Year’s resolution? One study claims that by the second week of January, 25 percent of those people who made thoroughly hopeful resolutions will have broken or given up on them. Change is hard.

No one knows that better than Darrin McCall, who works with youth trying to change and better their lives by passing the General Educational Development, or GED, test.

Darrin works for the Youth Empowerment Project and is The Village program coordinator. The Village provides 16- to 18-year-olds with intensive support that includes transportation, employment assistance, crisis intervention, enrichment activities, basic needs and community referrals. 

“We help them with focus and help them negotiate the educational barriers they face,” Darrin says.

Darrin jokes that he became a social worker because it was the family business: Both of his parents are social workers. But it’s clear that he is waging a passionate war against social injustice.

“I’ve always been concerned that there is so much inequality in the world and so many oppressed populations,” he says. “I see generation after generation after generation living in conditions that are unacceptable, and it just gets my blood pumping.”

Darrin got his undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and in 2009 he received his master’s from Tulane University. “They have a great social work program here, and New Orleans is a great place to learn and to be involved in the community,” he says.

Darrin is excited about his work even though he admits it can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. “So many times it was like hitting my head against the wall, convincing them to allow me to help them,” he says. 

But success is sweet when it comes: “One young woman came to us with the right attitude and very ready to succeed. She was basically homeless. She had no ID, no transcripts, so we helped her put all the pieces together and got her ready to take the test.”

The young woman passed with flying colors and, with the help of YEP, now has an apartment and is registered for classes at Delgado.

“I feel like I am making a difference,” Darrin says. “Too many people complain about the problems. I am making my contribution to making the world a better place, even if it’s just my small part of it.”

Shine a Light with Pamela Marquis illuminates the stories of those people who need a little recognition for the many ways they make New Orleans the best place in the world to live.


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