The Dutchess County Youth One Stop provides youth with education through the HSE program, or an occupational skills training program which allows businesses
to provide paid and unpaid work experiences within Dutchess County. Students gain experience by working with local businesses to provide job shadows.
Job shadows are a great tool that allows youth to see the day-to-day responsibilities and ask questions. The opportunity to shadow lets the students
see if they are really interested in that specific occupation.
Youth One Stop works with businesses to provide transitional jobs. The transitional job program allows students to work in their preferred occupation
while giving the business the opportunity to teach them what it is that they do. The program allows for 300 total paid hours over the course of
8 - 12 weeks. Some examples of transitional jobs are; EMT, Dental Assistant, HVAC, Activity Aid, and Culinary Arts. This is an easy pathway for
students to obtain work experience. Being able to do a transitional job allows the students to build their resumes and gain professional references.
Internships are offered to students that have either done or will be starting occupational training in the near future. This is a 60-hour paid program
that gives them the chance to practice what they've learned in the course. Our goal is to see that students are dedicated to completing their work
experience. All students must also attend soft skills workshops provided by the Youth One Stop. The program covers all areas of professionalism,
so that students are prepared and ready for employment.
Youth One Stop is proud to partner with community agencies to provide access to career and education opportunities for at-risk youth of Dutchess County.
One such partnership is with Dutchess Community College’s High School Equivalency (HSE) class.
Taught by Cliff Liu, this class meets in the Youth One Stop office space four days a week with 10 students currently enrolled.
With a strong background in math, Liu is committed to helping his students attain diplomas, which in turn, open up a plethora of opportunities.
“I often tell them, though they’re all very nice people, hopefully I won’t see them again after they [take their HSE] test,” Cliff said. “Meaning I
hope they pass the test on the first try.”
Having a high school diploma or equivalency has a vast impact on an individual’s employability. Without it, career options and upward mobility are
limited, often locking individuals into minimum wage jobs. It is estimated those with high school or equivalency diplomas will earn, on average,
$10,000 more annually than those without.
This certificate shows employers the applicant is willing and able to put in the work and follow through with projects that take a long period of time,
and proves proficiency in basic skills in various academic areas.
Youth One Stop also partners with Dutchess County BOCES Adult Learning Institute, referring youths needing to complete their education to their HSE
classes. Between these partnerships, more than a dozen youth have attained an HSE diploma.
According to a 2015 Urban Institute report, “parental education is closely related [to] the academic achievement of … children.” Essentially,
children whose parents have completed high school or higher education are 30 percent more likely to finish school.
The local library is a magical space though sometimes patrons need encouragement to embrace it. Youth One Stop, as an incubator of future role models,
wanted to help make libraries and reading cool again. Starting in September, we spent a Saturday in the childrens’ section of the Adriance Memorial
Library on Market St in the City of Poughkeepsie. YOS volunteers made themselves available to young patrons, inviting them to be read to, or to read
a book out loud to us!
In the event that neither invitation was accepted, we took advantage of our surroundings and picked a book off the shelf to enjoy. These Saturdays
were time volunteered by participants of Youth One Stop, but the reward overshadowed the sacrifice: connecting with members of the community over
a good story, and rekindling that love of reading!
This activity spanned from September through November, but the experience is long lasting. A big “thank you!” goes out to the staff of the Adriance
Memorial Library’s Children section for accommodating us and providing the opportunity to become positive reading role models for the younger generation.
Studies have shown that establishing a solid reading foundation expands vocabulary and increases chances of success at school. A recent report
from Scholastic indicates that kids are more likely to enjoy reading, and read frequently if adults read out loud to them throughout elementary
school. According to Jim Trelease, author of the Read-Aloud Handbook, reading aloud helps expand attention spans. It’s also a helpful method to
address sensitive situations with kids, and expand their capacity for empathy and awareness.
Libraries are integral to a community, and YOS is honored to have been able to help!
In late August, a caravan of cars arrived at a warehouse. The three programs of the Workforce Development Center – Workforce Connections, Career Action
Center, and Youth One Stop – had accepted an invitation from ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration by NEST to learn more about employment opportunities
the locally owned company offered.
Participants sat down at tables set with application packets and soot sponges and were treated to snacks and candy. The franchise owner, Charles Beverly
(or Chuck as he introduced himself), began by clicking through a slideshow of photos from jobs ranging from cleaning up sewage from a home’s basement,
to bulging ceiling tiles barely holding back a watery deluge.
Eyes were round with shock and fascination.
“Ok,” Chuck finished. “Pick up your soot sponges and follow me.”
The group was shown into another part of the warehouse where a soot-streaked water heater and an assortment of rugs were lying in a puddle of water.
With a casual gesture to the water heater, Chuck invited the participants to “go ahead and sponge off the soot.”
A few young men shuffled forward, unconvinced, but when they applied the sponge to the dark marks, they disappeared. A specialized vacuum made short
work of the waterlogged rugs, much to the participants’ delight.
Thanks to the staff at ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration by NEST, participants recognized a solid career pathway. Many lined up to personally
hand Chuck completed applications and shake his hand.
Case managers and mentors looked on with delight; it’s gratifying to connect people looking for fulfilling work with a local business committed to
fostering and developing a high quality workforce.
A bright, sunny, and warm day in June—a welcome break from nearly two weeks of rain—was a perfect day for a barbecue at Waryas Park in the
City of Poughkeepsie. That afternoon, a small army of staff and participants from Youth One Stop and the Workforce Development Center arrived, armed
with tablecloths, charcoal, hot dogs, hamburgers, and all the fixings.
Tucked under the arm of the Youth One Stop coordinator was a folder thick with certificates signed by Workforce Program Manager Anne DeMuro and President
and CEO Frank Castella, Jr. They said things like, “this certificate is awarded … for attaining a Certified Nursing Certificate.”
After a few attempts, the charcoals were lit and soon the merry sizzle of burgers and hot dogs filled the air along with the appetizing smell of homemade
salads. Participants and staff piled their plates high, sharing in the delicious fare and well-earned break in routine.
After a well-fed silence settled on the group, Mr. Castella spoke to the participants.
“We really appreciate how hard you’ve worked on improving your lives,” he began. “These are some major accomplishments you’ve achieved and we’re very
proud. Please know our door is always open to you whenever you need help.”
Many individuals in attendance received a Certificate, some for achieving his or her High School Equivalency Diploma, others for completing an occupational
skills class. There were also certificates congratulating individuals for maintaining a job for over 2 years.
Regardless, each stood for a photo next to Mr. Castella with a proud smile, soaking in the recognition of their accomplishments.
Following the official business, the atmosphere relaxed again as another round of hamburgers and hot dogs were cooked, conversations turned to stories
and laughter, and a feeling of pride crept over the whole affair. Later, each picked up his or her certificate with care, determined not to get
them creased or wrinkled—some even thinking of framing it.