A Workforce New York JobLINK placement brought Brooktondale native Zowie Haner to Significant Elements’ Work Preserve program in May. In her first six months, “Zowie has done absolutely everything here,” praises Work Preserve Outreach Coordinator Karen Coleman, from the heavy lifting of loading and unloading donated items from the truck to cleaning and processing of donations and their placement and sale in the store. Zowie even stepped in to supervise a Work Preserve trainee who needed one-on-one oversight.
The active nature of the work appeals to the energetic trainee. “I’ve learned so much from being here,” notes Zowie, “and you learn new things all the time.” She proudly points out that she can recognize a transom window and identify different window styles by numbers of lights thanks to Program Manager Sara Johnson’s tutelage.
Now a whiz with tools, Zowie’s first task was removing painted-over door hinges, which was “a pain in the tushie.” She ran a circular saw for the first time when she refurbished an antique drafting table under Work Preserve Warehousing & Traditional Skills Trainer Peter Walz’s supervision. Zowie was on the pick-up run when Peter spied the diamond in the rough. Zowie helped choose a piece of cherry wood to replace the damaged top, cut the piece, and refinished it. “It was cool to see a piece go from run down to a finished piece,” Zowie said. And the drafting table sold after only 20 minutes on the sales floor. Zowie also built a seat for a bench that sits in the garden behind the store.
With enhanced confidence and skills—and a great recommendation—gained from her Significant Elements training, Zowie landed a job as cashier at Agway in September. Zowie credits the Work Preserve training program for helping her land the job, including the vital customer service experience she gained. Agway is one of Work Preserve’s committed community employment partners, offering interviews to qualified participants who have completed Work Preserve training.
Now in her transition period, Zowie works one day a week at Significant Elements through funding from JobLINK and is still gaining from the Work Preserve experience. Sara gave Zowie much-needed perspective when her new job seemed overwhelming. That pep talk saw her through her hectic first two weeks. “There’s still so much I haven’t learned,” explains Zowie. But with a newfound confidence in her skills, she sees a future at Agway and the ability to tackle the job’s continuing challenges.
To support the Work Preserve program’s work to help young adults like Zowie make the transition to employment and financial independence, please click here to make an end-of-year gift now.
Funding for Work Preserve has been provided by the City of Ithaca Community Development Block Grant Program and the Park Foundation.