Monthly Archives: August 2011

Meet Wedgwood’s Employees

One of my first interviews this summer was with Jackie, Employment Training Program supervisor at Wedgwood Christian Services. She told me all about the program and recently invited me to visit and meet some of her employees.

So last week I sat down with Bayinna and Dontreal and they told me about their experience working with ETP.

Name: Bayinna                                                                          Name: Dontreal

Age: 15                                                                                      Age: 18

Summer Job: ETP                                                                     Summer Job: ETP

Dream Job: Lawyer                                                                  Dream Job: Chef or Nurse

First I asked them to just tell me about the program and what they get out of it…

This is a really good program for kids because it’s teaching them how to manage a real job when we leave. It’s teaching us about responsibility, educates us about jobs and working with supervisors and keeping a good attitude… Kids are really going to get something out of this. It’s really helpful for us, it really is. And just because we aren’t making a lot of money, it’s still the responsibility. And were making some money – my boss takes half of my check and puts it in a savings account so over time it accumulates so when I leave I’ll have some money to live with. I think I have like $300 saved up. It’s accumulating so when I get out, I can put it towards college or something. It’s not about the money; it’s learning and getting prepared for the real world. -Bayinna

I think we all have to work as a team. We have to get along with the boss and with other people. What I get out of ETP and what I’ve learned so far is that you can overcome a lot of things by getting to know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. ETP is more of a hands-on training for me, and I learn more with hands-on. It’s more teaching than it is other stuff. I’m getting out a lot of things, there is so much I’ve accomplished and what I’ve improved on and I thank Jackie for that and letting me come into ETP… It takes a lot of heart, you know, to go out there and do something in our community. -Dontreal

Do you think this will help you with what you want to do in the future? It does. It really helps me out a lot with what I would want to do because I would love to give back to my community… Where I’m at right now, I didn’t think I would get to this point in life where I am successful at something I didn’t think I would be good at. I used to have people that would always tell me “Hey, you can’t do that.” But at this job, they encourage you to do a lot more things than people out there would. – Dontreal

What did you guys learn about interviewing? You have to always look the person in the eye, sit up straight, make sure you are pronouncing things correctly and talking very clearly, you have to have something appropriate to wear. – Bayinna

Do you think working here helps you with school? It ties in with school. You have a job at school too. You have assignments to do. You have a job there that’s kind of like a job here. What math will provide over there, it provides over here. It motivates you and pushes you to do what you need to do. – Dontreal

What is your favorite part about working here? I like working out in the community: mowing, trimming and weeding for people. I know if they can’t do it, there’s someone out there that can, like me, so I’ll go out and help people. Even if it’s a hot day, it’s tough and difficult and I don’t want to work that day – I still go out and do it because I like helping people. – Bayinna

Do you feel more confident that when you need to find a job on your own that you’re going to know what to do and how to act? Well right now I’m looking for a job out in the community…. This helps us. It motivates us to try to do more. And when we get the job we’re going to know what to do, what to say because we’ve already had that kind of training. -Bayinna

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Uncategorized



Comprenew’s Urban Garden

Last time I checked in with Comprenew, the youth were excited to be the first team to lay the groundwork for an urban garden. I recently received these photos updating me on their progress this summer. Enjoy!


Landscape Fabric & Bed Placement

Soil Prep Lesson

Soil Filled Beds

Planting Seeds & Plants in Garden Beds

Tomato Planting Lesson



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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Uncategorized



More Success at Project C.O.O.L.

Name: Tia

Age: 15

School: West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science

Summer Job: Duthler’s Family Foods

Future Job: Social Worker

This was Tia’s second summer working with the help of Project C.O.O.L. Last year, she did a lot of gardening and community work at Southeast Community Association. This summer she was placed at Duthler’s Family Foods doing everything from cleaning to bagging groceries to working in the bottle room.

What do you want to do after high school? I want to be a social worker and I want to go to Western Michigan University.

How do you think this job will help you in social work? It taught me to have a lot of patience with people.

How was your interview with Project C.O.O.L.? I was nervous, but it was okay. You get tongue-tied.

What did you learn about interviewing? Smile, don’t have a bad attitude, really think about the answers, and keep your grades up and do good in school because it’s based on that too.

Name: Jesse

Age: 17

School: Wyoming Park

Summer Job: Duthler’s Family Foods

Future Job: Business Owner

Jesse also worked at Duthler’s Family Foods this summer stocking and unloading trucks.

How did you get involved in Project C.O.O.L.?  Two years ago I was in Project COOL, the first time I worked at a car wash. This time I applied for it and I couldn’t get in cause of funding, and then 2 weeks or so later they called and said they found enough funding and I would be placed at Duthler’s. I wasn’t too concerned about working at a grocery store but once I got there I really liked it.

How was your interview? It was pretty good. They asked me some pretty tough questions.

What was the most important thing you learned? Maintain your job, always be on it, always be on time.

What was your favorite part of the job? It was never boring. Always something to do.

What do you want to do after high school? I want to start my own business. Not sure what yet. I really want to go to the University of Michigan. If not, then Ferris.

In addition to telling me about his great time this summer, Jesse had some more exciting news to share…

They hired me at the end of the program. The manager said he really liked what I was doing and how I worked, I was always on time so he asked me if I was interested in actually working there. I start tomorrow.

Another example of how summer jobs like Jesse’s can lead to more permanent positions and open doors to new opportunities. Hope things are going well for him after a couple weeks as a regular employee!

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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Uncategorized



Project C.O.O.L. to Law School

Name: Leighton

High School: Lowell High School Class of 2011

Summer Job: Worked at Drew, Cooper & Anding law firm for the past 3 summers

Future Plans: Left for Howard University in Washington D.C. last week to pursue his undergrad degree before heading to law school.

Leighton is a Project C.O.O.L. veteran, just finishing up his 4th year in the program and on to bigger and better things as we speak (well, as you read). He is a fine example of what youth employment programs like Project C.O.O.L. can do for a young person. Hear more about Leighton’s experience in these few clips from my interview with him:

…summer jobs can help a young person decide what they’d like to do, realize what they don’t want to do and provide invaluable experience and networking opportunities that can help kick-start a career.

All the best to Leighton during his first week in D.C.!

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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Breaktime Bakery

Last week I visited the Breaktime Bakery at New City Neighbors where middle school kids are hard at work this summer baking cookies, cinnamon rolls, breads and more.

Name: Tiffany

Age: 12

School: Knapp Charter Academy

Summer Job: Bakery

Dream Job: Pediatrician

Favorite Subject: English

First I got to talk to Tiffany and she explained how the bakery operates. The kids come in from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. When they arrive, they put on their aprons and hairnets, pick partners for the day and get to work on their first recipe. Each pair of two moves quickly from one recipe to the next until they have everything they need for the day. The store opens at 12:30 and the kids have different shifts, rotating who is working in the store and who is completing their other daily tasks.

What is your favorite thing about your job? Baking and sometimes being in the store because you get to  meet new people coming into the store. It’s kind of like a real job, you know, you get to do the cashier and then you have to pack them up, it’s kind of fun.

What do you think is the most important thing you learn while working? Math skills. Like measuring, knowing how much you have to put in to the recipe. And job skills. Eric [Executive Director] talks a lot about that. Like if you’re working a daily job, you can’t just stop in the middle and play something. He teaches us to keep working at it and to work with other people.

How do you think this will help you get a job in the future? This gives you a lot of experience of what’s ahead of you. If I had an interview to work in a bakery, I would already have experience of how it works so I would have an advantage.

Name: Avrey

Age: 10

School: Kenowa Hills Middle School

Summer Job: Bakery

Dream Job: Businessman

Favorite Subject: Science

Currently Baking: Cheddar Herb Bread

What is your favorite part of your job? Making recipes from scratch. The first time I did it I didn’t think it would turn out well, but I was able to make it great.

What do you learn here that will help you in school? Since we have a certain amount of ingredients, it helps me with math.

What does Eric teach you guys about job skills? He has high expectations for us, so you always have to keep trying.

What do you learn here that might help you when you’re a businessman? Since we do tasks, I do the store sometimes so I handle the money box and make sure people get the right amount back.

If you were at an interview for a job in high school and they asked you about a challenge you worked through at this job, what would you tell them about? One of the hardest recipes is cinnamon rolls because you have to make the dough, the frosting and the filling. So now I’ve had a lot of experience with these recipes and got better and better.

Name: Slater

Age: 12

School: Northview Crossroads

Summer Job: Bakery

Dream Job: Pro Wrestler

Favorite Subject: Science

What is your favorite part about your job? Learning to make new things and making new friends.

What do you learn here that will help you in the future? We learn how to deal with different types of problems. Like if someone messes up a recipe, they have to start all over. You might get a warning or fired in a real job. Here we can learn from our mistakes.

What have you learned here about job skills? Some kids don’t have jobs in the summertime. This would help you in your job later in life. It teaches you to wake up early in the summer and to get ready.

Some treats made it back with me to Grand Rapids Community Foundation and received rave reviews from our staff!

Thank you to all of the young bakers at Breaktime Bakery and job well done : )

And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the video on our Facebook page to get a sneak peek into the Bakery.

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


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