Seven Work Preserve participants, ranging in age from 14 to 19, have started a six-week summer training program at Significant Elements. Each participant has been referred from a community partner, either Challenge Workforce Solutions, Youth Employment Services, JobLink, or The Learning Web.
The Historic Ithaca program offers youth and young adults an opportunity to get hands-on, real-world work experience to learn what it takes to excel in a retail environment. So far the Work Preserve team has tackled a range of projects in the store. The crew has taken on the ambitious project of cleaning out and organizing all three floors of the retail space, plus storage areas. They’ve made sure that items are prominently displayed and priced. During furniture week, they’ve been making three-legged stools from rough-hewn planks that Work Preserve Warehousing and Traditional Skills Trainer Peter Walz cut from a log. One of the most exciting parts of the job is seeing their handmade items sold in the store, along with chairs that they’ve painted and refurbished. Each day, participants experience firsthand how their work contributes to the success of the business.
According to Work Preserve Education & Outreach Coordinator Karen Coleman, the work is challenging and is all about participants building the transferable skills they need to succeed in the workplace, from the basics of showing up on time, learning to meet workplace expectations, communicating, and working with others. Karen has seen the participants make progress in mastering the skill of working independently, and Peter notes that the young adults are more social and open to paying attention to directions. At the end of the program, the tasks accomplished combine to give participants mindfulness of detail and personal responsibility in the workplace, skills they’ll take forward in whatever they choose to tackle next.
Funding for Work Preserve has been provided by the City of Ithaca Community Development Block Grant Program, the Park Foundation, the Bank of America Foundation, and the Community Foundation’s Tompkins Today & Tomorrow Fund.
You can support the Work Preserve team by donating building materials, furniture, antiques, tools, garden items, and more to Significant Elements. Every donation is an opportunity for our participants to learn something new and add value to materials through reuse!