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.