As Dogwood Pass staff prepped their wild west town in Pike County for a Civil War reenactment, they were happy to have some extra help through Goodwill’s Summer Youth Program.
The annual paid work experience program provides local teens their first experiences in the job market. Goodwill of South Central Ohio partners with local employers, provides a job coach, and pays the teens’ wages during the five-week program which ends July 31.
It’s a program Mike Montgomery said Dogwood Pass has really enjoyed over the years.
“The reason we do it is to help the kids and let them learn how to support themselves,” Montgomery said. “It’s a great thing.”
At Dogwood Pass, youths have an opportunity to explore a variety of job tasks from clearing brush to running a fence line. One year, they even helped build one of the town’s buildings.
This year, there are 53 teens from Hocking, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, and Vinton counties who are participating in the Summer Youth Program. The program was structured a little differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a remote option was added. The 19 teens who opted for the remote experience have been taking three-hour classes four days a week with Goodwill employment specialists. Lessons included education on career exploration, job seeking skills, post-secondary option, and self-advocacy.
“Summer Youth looks a little different this year with COVID, but we are so grateful to have the communities’ help. It allows our participants to enjoy their summers and learn skills needed for their futures as well as earn some money,” said Cana Horner, missions coordinator for Goodwill of South Central Ohio.
Oher employers who worked with the program this year include: Cooks Creek Golf Club in South Bloomfield; Millstone Southern Smoked BBQ in Logan; North River Place Apartments in Chillicothe; Shawnee Valley Campground and Kayak Rental in Chillicothe, Waverly YMCA; and Rural King in Waverly. Goodwill stores in Chillicothe, Circleville, and Waverly also were job sites.
Goodwill has been offering the summer youth job program for more than a decade. Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities makes referrals to Goodwill for the program and helps with funding.