Youth Summer Successes at SAY
This summer was a busy and exciting time for youth in SAY’s work experience programs. Every summer, SAY helps a cohort of young people become workforce ready through professional development workshops that focus on essential job skills, mock interviewing, and helping youth get that vital first job experience on their resumes.
We began the summer with the second-annual SAY Youth Job Fair. Traditional job fairs can be a little intimidating, so our program staff came up with an innovative way to engage young people by creating a youth-centric event that featured employers recruiting for entry-level positions with lots of opportunity for advancement. And the event was a huge success! Many young people went outside their comfort zones and took the first step toward their future careers, with several youth securing interviews on the spot.
Kim Williams, from Interim HealthCare of Santa Rosa, was one of the employers that tabled during the job fair. Kim was specifically looking for someone 18 years or older that could drive and had a passion for healthcare. Throughout the day Kim met a variety of young people looking for gainful employment, but one person really made an impact. “Evodie stood out to me from the beginning. She asked great questions and seemed confident and determined,” recalls Kim. Thanks to meeting one another at the job fair, Evodie went on to be successfully hired at Interim HealthCare and is doing great! “She’s on the path to success and I can tell she’s really driven,” says Kim. “For example, we recently launched a new dementia training course program for our employees who are interested in increasing their client-service knowledge. Evodie was one of our first employees that completed this course and it led to her getting an increase in pay already!”
Kim’s best advice to young people searching for a job? “Communication and follow up is key. If you are a no-show or you’re not communicating well before or during an interview, that is being noted by the employers. First impressions really do make a difference!”
Immediately after the job fair, our summer work crews started up! Every summer, in conjunction with Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps and The Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership, SAY hires young people to spend 8-weeks in our community helping with ecological restoration and land stewardship projects, as well as working at nonprofits in our community. This summer, 16 young were hired for our work crews and for almost all of them it was their very first job experience! These youth worked so hard this summer to gain job skills, learn how to work on a team, and make a positive impact on our community. Some of work sites this summer include Redwood Empire Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County, Council on Aging Services, LandPaths, and many sites throughout Sonoma County Regional Parks. Just a few of our youth’s amazing accomplishments this summer include:
- Planted over 250 pumpkin plants in preparation for the Tolay Fall Festival
- Constructed 1000 feet of new trail Sonoma Valley Regional Park to increase accessibility of the park after the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County
- Prepared, packaged, and labelled over 150 meals in a commercial kitchen to be distributed to youth participating in the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s Summer Lunch Program
- Packaged over 500 meals for the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program
- Planted 84 vegetable and herbaceous plants at Andy’s Unity Park Garden
Aryanna, one of our crew members this summer, just started her sophomore year of high school. She likes movies (particularly 90s movies), listening to music, and hanging out with her family.
This year was her second time being on an SAY work crew and her favorite part was working at the Council on Aging making meals for seniors in our community. “I really like helping people,” said Aryanna, “and ultimately I want to travel the world and help young kids that have disabilities.” She plans on staying connected to SAY throughout the school year because “it’s a really good program, they know things that can help a lot of kids out and they have people you can trust.”
Aryanna’s best advice to young people hunting for their first job? “Don’t be nervous! You’re always going to be nervous during the interview, but it will pass and you’ll start to feel comfortable.”
As we get ready for the up-coming school year, the holidays, and a new year it’s so important to look back and honor our youth’s summer successes!
We are so grateful to everyone in our community that helped support youth in our workforce development programs and truly made it a summer to remember. Check out some more photos from our crews below!