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Youth Services provides agricultural employment for at-risk youth in Bellows Falls

Bellows Falls—Youth Services provided a seven-week summer work program for low income youth in the Bellows Falls area from August 1 to Sept 15. According to organizers, twelve youth between the ages of 14-24 benefited from paid summer jobs in agriculture as well as gained important life skills that better prepare them for entering the workforce and living independently. More than two- thirds of the participants had already left high school.

“Thanks to Department of Labor funding, we were pleased to be able to offer this much-needed program for an eighth year,” said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the Executive Director for Youth Services, noting that employment and job development skills were two of the highest needs of the youth his agency serves.

The participants worked and learned at a variety of sites each morning, shared a nutritious lunch together, and studied life and employment skills afternoons at the Health Center at Bellows Falls under the guidance and support of two adult supervisors and a Youth Services workforce development coordinator. The young adults participated in workshops on occupational safety, financial management, reproductive health, resume writing and job readiness skills.

While the youth learned skills they made important contributions to the area.  Divided into two teams, they did agricultural work at Kurn Hattin Homes, Harlow Farm, Westminster Central School garden and the Hope Roots Farm of Bianca and Mike Zaransky.  They also maintained the gardens at Bellows Falls Union High School until the students returned. All their hosts indicated that they appreciated the contributions of Youth Services’ participants.

“It is an opportunity to give them a taste of the workday world while still providing them with support,” explained Susan Lawson-Kelleher, Youth Services Workforce Development Coordinator. At the completion of the program, over half of the out-of-school participants were offered and accepted full or part-time positions,” Lawson-Kelleher explained. Another accepted a job offer partway through the program.

For more information about Youth Services programs in the greater Bellows Falls area, contact Case Manager Michelle Sacco at Youth Services’ Parks Place office at (802) 275-7871 or Workforce Development Coordinator, Susan Lawson-Kelleher at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org.