On Friday, June 26, our third class of proud YOUTHWORKS! trainees and their even prouder parents, mentors, and friends gathered to celebrate their graduation from the year-long program.
Idaho Youth Ranch CEO Steve Woodworth welcomed everyone with opening remarks, reminding the trainees that relationships are the key to change, because none of us succeeds all alone.
“The most important aspect of YOUTHWORKS! is the community of caring people committed to helping you succeed,” Steve said. “That includes your mentors, our staff at IYR, the businesses and organizations that provided internships, your families, and the support you have given each other over the past 12 months. You have come so far and accomplished so much! You are living proof that we can all do so much more by working together than by trying to go it alone.”
After Steve’s introduction, all four graduates—Lindsay Vaughn, Kelly Markham, Stephanie Markham, and Phillip Cross—gave inspiring speeches thanking their loved ones and supporters. Each shared his or her perspective on what they gained from the program and what they discovered about their own unique strengths and potential. They described how they felt up against insurmountable odds in the job market before they found YW! But one year later, all four are confident in their ability to find meaningful work and do well in careers they are passionate about, thanks to on-the-job experience and life skills they gained from the program.
Our graduates completed six-month internships in their chosen fields, sponsored by Meridian Valley Humane Society and The Pet Doctor (Lindsay), Deschutes Optical and Gem State Family Eyecare (Phillip), Treasure Valley Children’s Theater (Stephanie), and Ada Community Libraries (Kelly).
Several alumni from earlier YOUTHWORKS! classes were there to help celebrate: Austin Webster, Sam Johnson, and Katie Kolb from Class II, and Gina Johnson and Danielle Kuhrt from Class I. The alums presented the new graduates with special coins to welcome them into the Idaho Youth Ranch Alumni Association.
The theme for the night was “Providing Tools for a Promising Future.” Each graduate received a personalized glass trophy, a certificate of completion, and their own YOUTHWORKS! Toolkit: a padfolio containing interview tips, their résumés, references, copies of the graduation slide show, and other career resources.
Stevens-Henager College of Boise generously donated the meeting room for the ceremony, which concluded with plenty of cake and camaraderie as old friendships were renewed and new ones launched.
Congratulations to Lindsay, Stephanie, Kelly, and Phillip! And many thanks to their dedicated mentors and internship sponsors!