GREAT BARRINGTON — Austen Dupont turned his life around thanks to the Railroad Street Youth Project.
The 18-year-old’s initial involvement with RSYP was through mandated community service in 2012. He quickly became one of the organization’s more active members, giving him direction and purpose.
On Saturday Dupont graduates from Mount Everett Regional School and in the fall plans to study business management at Westfield State University.
The Sheffield teenager credits RSYP for helping him get a high school diploma.
“I would have dropped out instead,” he said.
Dupont was among more than 30 young people RSYP honored during its inaugural Generation Block Party Sunday afternoon at it’s Bridge Street home next to Memorial Field.
RSYP Executive Director Ananda Timpane cited Dupont among the dozens of young people who bring a take-charge attitude to the youth empowerment group that serves events 700 to 800 Southern Berkshire 14 to 25-year-olds every year.
In particular, Timpane cited the work of the 16-member Youth Operational Board that raises $3,000 of it’s annual $10,000 budget.
“They will do dances, dodgeball, projects and other activities that engage youth,” she said.
Sunday’s block party also doubled as a 15th anniversary celebration for a nonprofit that originated on Railroad Street, relocating nearly seven years ago to the Schneider Youth Building on Bridge Street.
About 100 youth and adults mingled, played games and enjoyed a pig roast prepared by Zee Vassos, chef at The Kitchen on the Commons in Lenox.
Awards and pig roast aside, the gathering was sort of an open house for the community, according to Timpane.