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Joe Youcha / Alexandria Seaport Foundation

Posted on Jul 08,2008
Filed Under Local Leaders , Community,
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Joe Youcha / Alexandria Seaport Foundation
P.O. Box 25036
Alexandria, VA 22313
(703) 549-6715
www.alexandriaseaport.org


About Joe:

Joe was born and raised in New York, growing up in the Hudson Valley always near water. He went to Columbia University for undergraduate studies in history. Joe came to the area in ’90 looking for a change in direction. He started at the seaport in 1992, heading an educational boat building program. In 1996 he became executive director (his current job).


About the Alexandria Seaport Foundation:

“This is the 25th anniversary of the Foundation”, Joe told us recently. “On September 29th, Alexandria will celebrate “Seaport Day”, with exhibits and classes that will showcase Alexandria’s maritime history. On the 28th, we’ll have the Corporate “Team Boat Building Challenge”, where your group or organization can enroll a team to build a boat in a day.” 

The Foundation started as a way to promote Alexandria’s maritime heritage. The focus quickly centered on the tall ship the Foundation bought and christened the schooner Alexandria. “Due to the maintenance and upkeep of the wooden vessel, it quickly dominated the program” Joe said.  “More and more resources flowed into it”. By 1992 the Foundation realized it needed to refocus and change direction. “When I came to the Foundation, I wanted to start a small boat-building program, and Bill Hunley (now Chairmen Emeritus) wanted to have the Foundation redirect it’s focus towards educating youths. We soon started doing what we do best – education around boatbuilding.”

ASF now focuses on two programs: The first is an apprenticeship for disadvantaged youths. The four-month program takes in around 50 at-risk youths a year, helps them attain their GED, and teaches them a job that they will continue as an apprentice with the Carpenter’s Union. The second program is a community/family boatbuilding course where in two days you will build your own boat and launch it during graduation ceremonies. Along with learning a skill, the course helps reinforce values such as trust, teamwork, and cooperation. 20 -25 boats are built each year, and 70 – 75 boat kits are sent to 35 states and to 6 other countries who’ve developed similar programs.
   
Our Philosophy:

“We give people the opportunity and the tools they need for a good job. Nothing solves a person’s problems like a good job”

Why did you choose to do this?

“I always loved wooden boats. I grew up in the Hudson Valley and was always working on and building boats. In the early ‘90s I was in another line of work, and didn’t like my job. My wife told me to figure out what made me happy and do it. So here I am”

Why Alexandria?

“It’s where people have access to the river. The river (along with its people) is Alexandria’s greatest asset”

Great Story?

“We’ve had so many success stories here. One recently was a graduate of the program who called to tell me that he had just built a boat with his father (with whom he had been long estranged). They had built the boat from scratch – from his memory. That graduate is now a civil engineer.”



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