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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Ithaca

2023 Work Preserve Summer Program

Our Work Preserve Summer Program is in full swing. Four participants under the age of 16 join us for our 6-week program. They’re referred by our community partners at Ithaca’s Youth Bureau’s Youth Employment Service that places youth in paid jobs and internships throughout our community.

Historic Ithaca’s 12th annual summer session offers a first-time work experience for in-school youth and young adults, providing an opportunity to get hands-on, real-world work experience and build transferable green job skills. So far the Work Preserve team has tackled a range of Significant Elements retail projects, spoken with county officials, and learned about local history.

The participants are busy from day one here at Significant Elements. Following a brief orientation participants dive right in to seeing what running a retail establishment looks like on a daily basis. Significant Elements is unique because the merchandise we sell is largely community donated items. Participants learn to research and price items, inventory, stock, and repair as needed. As many of our long time followers know we received a large furniture donation from Balch Hall which includes many heavily used end tables. This project carried them through the summer session, finding time in between other tasks to strip the original finish, treat, repair, and re-stain the items for sale. Once completed the participants will learn how to photograph, measure and market their items for an online platform. Full cycle projects like this one are essential in making sure that our participants are ready to enter the workforce with skills as well as providing a number of different directions to explore. Businesses such as ours take many different skill sets to run efficiently. By trying out everything from repair, sales, and marketing, the participants gain insight into their likes and dislikes before entering the job market.

Geno gives Work Preserve Participants a lesson in sheet rock work

A major undertaking this session was done for the betterment of Significant Elements. Work Preserve participants undertook sheetrocking a small room off the entrance to the second floor. The participants worked with Geno Tournour Work Preserve’s Work Preserve’s Manager, and Jordan Governale, Work Preserve Warehousing & Traditional Skills Trainer to learn the basics of measuring, cutting, hanging, taping, and “mudding.” Johan, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, self-tasked the difficult triangle corner pieces. “By measuring the two points and connecting them, I can get a rough outline of the shape.” It took a few small tweaks to the edges before Johan’s piece was ready to be screwed in. It was clear his time and effort was worth it, the unusual shaped piece slid right and was attached by Geno. Bram said he enjoyed sheetrocking “because it is an instant change.” The participants are learning transferable skills in a skilled craft which is currently in high demand in the construction industry. These professions tend to have high job satisfaction ratings, opportunities for advancement, and good pay with no college debt.

In a bid to enlighten and motivate the young participants at Work Preserve, Larry Workman, Manager of Talent Acquisition & Engagement with Tompkins County met with the team. Larry shared valuable insights on networking, interview etiquette, and the benefits of working for the county. Larry's visit would leave an indelible mark on these aspiring professionals, empowering them to consider a career that not only brings personal growth but also serves the community they love.

Larry Workman, Manager of Talent Aquisition & Engagement with Tompkins County speaks with Work Preserve participants

His passion for public service was evident. When asked what his motivation was, he shared, "Getting up everyday and knowing that I have a purpose and am contributing something to my community." Larry's dedication and sense of fulfillment in his job served as an encouraging example for our participants who are in the early stages of contemplating their career paths. During Larry’s visit he made sure to cover the practical aspects of county employment as well. He shared valuable information about pension plans, emphasizing the importance of financial security for a fulfilling future. Additionally, he highlighted the benefits of paid time off (PTO) that local government employees enjoy, fostering a healthy work-life balance. Larry’s visit left a lasting impression on the participants.

As we come to the end of 2023’s Work Preserve Summer Program, we want to remind you that programs like Work Preserve would not be possible without your support. By donating to our non-profit, you can help us expand our programs like Work Preserve and empower more young individuals to explore their passions and contribute to a more sustainable community. Together, we can build a brighter future for our youth and create a workforce that is skilled and armed with an understanding that sustainability and preservation are not just words, but actions they can take. Your generosity can make a lasting impact, so please consider donating today. Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey of growth and transformation.

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