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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

 

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Employment Training Program at Wedgwood

This week I met up with Jackie who heads up the Employment Training Program (ETP) at Wedgwood Christian Services. Wedgwood provides residential treatment for teens who struggle with a wide range of physical, emotional and social issues. The kids live, go to school and (sometimes) work at Wedgwood while going through the different therapy or treatment programs.

“I would say this program is probably the biggest confidence booster for these kids. Once they’re in residential treatment, they have typically gone through several foster homes. They haven’t just been a normal kid.”

One of our greatest goals this summer is to provide youth with the irreplaceable skills you learn at your first job. Things like how to fill out an application, how to interview and how to communicate with your boss. And for the kids at Wedgwood, these are skills they likely would not have learned without the ETP, which walks them through each step of the job-hunting process and beyond.

First, the residents fill out an application and have an interview with Jackie. They are immediately given a feedback form to let them know how they did and where they could improve. Interviewees provide 3 references (Wedgwood staff) and Jackie checks those references to ensure they are doing well in school, therapy, etc.

Once hired, employees work their way up the four levels of the program:

1. Orientation

2. Trainee

3. Junior Apprentice

4. Senior Apprentice

Each level comes with a new set of goals and employees are evaluated each day. They must meet goals ranging from attendance and punctuality to appearance to cooperating with supervisors and team members. After two weeks of consistent good scores, they move up to the next level (which comes with more responsibility and higher expectations). After successfully completing Senior Apprentice status, the Wedgwood team helps the teen secure a minimum wage job out in the community.

I was very impressed with the program’s design. It seems they have thought of everything to make everything from application to resignation just like a “real job” (maybe even tougher).

So, what kind of work do the kids do?

In the work program, they do a lot of lawn service. There are about 90 homes they take care of on a regular basis. They do landscaping projects, help out with any clean up or other odd jobs on campus and hold car washes for staff. At their wood-shop, they build picnic tables, adirondack chairs, toy chests, birdhouses or whatever else comes their way. They even do upholstery! They keep all the cushions in the kids’ homes looking fresh.

“The funny thing is, most of the kids, if they are still at Wedgwood and get a job in the community, they still want to work for me. The program has given them the confidence they need and they don’t want to lose ties. They will communicate their community job hours to me and then on their days off I’ll schedule them to work a couple of hours here and there. The kids really have a sense of ownership to the program. We really put a lot of focus on how to be appropriate, how to be professional, how to handle conflicts, and I feel like they’ve learned so much that they don’t want to leave us short because they know how much work we have to do. They really have a sense of belonging and that just touches my heart because they haven’t belonged anywhere. So if they feel that good about stuff at work then I know once they get a job in the community they are really going to take ownership of that job… The responsibility they gain is unbelievable.”

Probably one of the best things about this program is how the kids learn to connect their work life to the rest of their life…

“I go to team meetings every week to hear how they are doing at home or at school. It might be a bad report and then they ask how they are doing at work, and it’s like we’re talking about 2 different kids. They discipline themselves for work but in other areas they don’t. That’s where I tie the two of them together. I need them to realize that work is very important, but you need to have your life together before you can be successful at work. And I would say 9 times out of 10 once they start working, the improvement in their overall social aspect of life improves greatly. If they flourish in that area, most likely they will flourish in other areas too.”

And how will this grant help?

“This grant is just a nice breath of fresh air”

The grant will basically ensure that she can pay the kids not only for the summer, but throughout the year. And with that stability, the program has an opportunity to grow. Jackie has a waiting list of customers looking for lawn service. Now she can hire more kids to take on that extra work.

The Employment Training Program at Wedgwood is an excellent example of how much youth gain from their first work experience. The program is about so much more than the kids earning some extra cash. It is about preparing them to be confident, independent adults that can provide for themselves once they’re out on their own.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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