Our newest Idaho Youth Ranch program, YOUTHWORKS!, helps launch at-risk young adults into the working world with a big head start. The program includes on-the-job training in our thrift stores, mentoring from a business professional, classroom instruction, an internship, and job placement assistance. It even pays trainees a stipend while they’re learning.
One of the key elements of YOUTHWORKS! is the classroom instruction in so-called “soft skills” like how to interview for a job, dealing with possible conflicts at work, and speaking in front of groups.
Danielle, who graduated from YOUTHWORKS! in April, started the program as a very reserved new trainee. At first, she would turn down opportunities to speak with YOUTHWORKS! supporters. Her desire to participate was there, but her confidence lagged. She wasn’t sure of her own ability or her grasp of the talking points.
After just two months in the program, Danielle got another invitation to speak, this time at an Idaho Youth Ranch store manager's training meeting. And this time she accepted, which was a breakthrough on so many levels. She did a great job as a presenter! Since then, Danielle has also spoken at a site visit with funders from United Way of the Treasure Valley.
When our YOUTHWORKS! Job Specialist asked Danielle if she would consider helping with more YOUTHWORKS! publicity and outreach activities in the future, Danielle responded with enthusiasm. She has become confident—even comfortable—speaking about her experiences with the program to both potential supporters and other young people who could benefit from YOUTHWORKS!
Her favorite part of the program was the sense of community. "It was a full year of feeling like I really belonged," she said. "That made a big difference for me."
Danielle graduated from YOUTHWORKS! in April 2014 and is now working at the Little Scholars Academy daycare. Without YW!, she said, "I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be the same person. I never would have applied for this job. I would've been too intimidated."
Danielle is considering a degree in early childhood education because she loves working with little kids. "They're learning all the time," she said. "So I get to be a big influence in their process. It's very rewarding!"
Danielle just earned an IYR scholarship in 2015 and is currently attending Boise State University, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies.