Goodwill Summer Youth serves nearly 50

As Shawnee Lanes filled with excitement for another evening of bowling, Kyesha, Victoria, and Trapper kept a close eye out for screens to turn green with a push broom icon. The image was a sign the lane was ready to have its tables wiped down and bowling balls taken back to the equipment room.

Their work at Shawnee Lanes was through Goodwill of South Central Ohio’s annual Summer Youth program which aims to help youth who are on the verge of entering the job market by providing them a paid transitional work experience. Goodwill has been offering Summer Youth for more than a decade in partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities who makes referrals and assists with funding the program.

Goodwill’s workforce development team served 45 individuals between the two five-week sessions which began in June and wrapped in August. A 46th individual signed up late and recently began a one-on-one session.

The summer youth program relies heavily on Goodwill job coaches like Kyesha who work alongside the participants, guiding them on how to do the job at hand while also emphasizing other skills such as teamwork, communicating with peers, and building resiliency.

Kyesha is one of Goodwill’s new job coaches who came to Goodwill after hearing about the work we do from a former coworker of hers, our Employment Specialist Laura Walker.

“I love it. I have four kids, so I feel right at home,” Kyesha said. “I like just being able to help people and teach them things that are useful to take with them for the rest of their lives.

Another key part of the program are business partners like Shawnee Lanes who provide the real-world work environment for the program. Among the benefits for businesses is they get some extra help at no cost to them – Goodwill pays the participant wages – and they may find a new employee in the process as some have hired participants at the conclusion of the program.

Other business partners this year included Shawnee Valley Campground, Hampton Inn (Circleville), Dogwood Pass, Hocking Hills Adventures, and Goodwill stores in Logan, Jackson, Circleville, and Chillicothe.

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