More than 50 Licking County youths supported by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities, are spending the summer working, volunteering and gaining job experience. Meet a few of them!
A summer job can make a big different for young adults hoping to gain experience and prepare for entering the workforce after high school.
And thanks to a relationship with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and several other community partners, about 51 Licking County youths supported by the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD), are spending this summer working, volunteering and gaining job experience.
One of those youths is Austin Estep, 18, a recent graduate of Licking Valley High School and the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County. He’s spent the past few weeks gaining skills in food service, laundry and indoor and outdoor maintenance at The Grove By The River in Newark, through Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries.
The Goodwill staff has noticed he’s a pro when it comes to cleaning and mopping.
One of his coworkers, Melat Pierce — a student at Watkins Memorial High School — has loved watering flowers and cleaning the Grove’s garden beds.
It’s important that Austin, Melat and other local youth have the opportunity to explore different jobs and gain new skills before they start looking for fulltime work, said Holly Shellogg, director of employment supports for LCBDD.
“Research shows if a transition youth has had work experience or career exploration before graduating from high school, they have a greater chance of obtaining a competitive job or enrolling in post-secondary education or vocational training,” she said.
After receiving a referral from LCBDD’s transition youth team, OOD works with each youth, developing their individual employment plan. Some participate in career exploration and job shadowing while others receive work experience earning minimum wage.
In Licking County, participants can choose to work with one of several accredited agencies, including Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries, Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio, Greenleaf Job Training Services, and Functional Training Services.
Each participant is matched with a site supervisor who helps them learn the ins and outs of the job.
Tammy Elliott, a job coach for Greenleaf, has spent the summer working with a group of students, including Caitlyn Cheney and Chris Pelletier, at Giant Eagle in Heath.
Over the last few weeks, the group has learned to stock shelves and assist with cleaning.
Caitlyn, a recent graduate of Sheridan High School, said she’s hoping her experience at Giant Eagle will help get her closer to her goal of working at a daycare.