Again this year the Outreach Team funded two Northern Berkshire high school students for an 8 week mentored work program under the supervision of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board.
Mitch Maynard, a rising senior at Mt Greylock Regional High School, worked at Gordon’s Garage in Clarksburg as an auto mechanic and Kiersten Thomann, a rising senior at McCann worked at City Hall in North Adams for eight weeks. They were among 10 Northern Berkshire high school students who completed a week’s work training program at Berkshire Community College prior to their 8 week mentored work experiences.
Since federal funding for such programs has become non-existent and Northern Berkshire does not qualify for state funding, all of the student work experiences were funded privately. Capital One, Mountain One Bank, McDonald’s, MCLA and BCC, the State Attorney General’s Office and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation joined First Church Williamstown in supporting this year’s students. This is the third year of the local program’s existence and for the first time this year students from Mt Greylock and McCann joined students from Drury and Hoosac Valley in participating.
Participating businesses, which included the Porches, Goodwill Industries, Brayton Elementary Summer Science Camp, Adams Youth Center, Historic Valley Campground, and MCLA, were uniformly pleased with their mentees. Mentor supervisors were Michele Boyer Vivori and Molly Meczywor from Drury HS and Heather Williams, whose Berkshire County Regional Employment Board maintains an ongoing year long relationship with each of the high schools. Phil Smith and Colin Williams for the First Church Outreach team participated in site visits with the supervisors and attended graduation ceremonies at City Hall in North Adams on August 11th.
As occurred last year, some of the businesses and students were enthusiastic about continuing the work experience into the school year. Last year First Church members were able to secure private funding to enable a winter employment program and we are hopeful of extending the program again this year.
A number of students have gained permanent employment as a result of their summer experience and guidance counselors have noted that graduates of the summer youth work program have universally done better in their school work after successfully completing their summer.