As Dogwood Pass staff prepped its wild west town in Pike County for a Civil War reenactment, they were happy to have some extra help through Goodwill of South Central Ohio’s summer youth program. The annual paid work experience program provides local teens their first experiences in the job market. Goodwill of South Central Ohio partners with local employers, provides a job coach, and pays the teens’ wages during the five-week program, which concluded on July 31.
It’s a program Mike Montgomery said Dogwood Pass has really enjoyed over the years. “The reason we do it is to help the kids and let them learn how to support themselves,” Montgomery said. “It’s a great thing.”
At Dogwood Pass, youth have an opportunity to explore a variety of job tasks, from clearing brush to running a fence line. One year, they even helped build one of the town’s buildings.
This year, 53 teens from Hocking, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, and Vinton counties participated in the summer youth program. The program was structured a little differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a remote option was added. The 19 teens who opted for the remote experience took three-hour classes for four days per week with Goodwill employment specialists. Lessons included education on career exploration, job seeking skills, post-secondary options and self-advocacy.
“Summer Youth looks a little different this year with COVID, but we are so grateful to have the communities’ help. It allows our participants to enjoy their summers and learn skills needed for their futures as well as earn some money,” said Cana Horner, missions coordinator for Goodwill of South Central Ohio.
Other employers who worked with the program this year include: Cooks Creek Golf Club in South Bloomfield; Millstone Southern Smoked BBQ in Logan; North River Place Apartments in Chillicothe; Shawnee Valley Campground and Kayak Rental in Chillicothe, Waverly YMCA; and Rural King in Waverly. Goodwill stores in Chillicothe, Circleville and Waverly also were job sites.
Goodwill has been offering the summer youth job program for more than a decade. Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities makes referrals to Goodwill for the program and helps with funding.