This past summer, Community Opportunities collaborated with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and County Market in Winfield in a Summer Work Experience Program.
This program is for high school students with disabilities entering their senior year.
The Summer Work Experience Program places students in a 20 -hour a week, for six-eight week job trial.
Three students were selected (two from Troy Buchanan High and one from Winfield High) to participate in the program. They spent four hours a week working on soft skills (resume writing, interviewing skills, communication, etc.). The other 16 hours a week were spent on-site, actively working at County Market. Community Opportunity Employment staff Donna Hughes, Tiffany Stanton, and Allison Fennewald coached the students and County Market employees from various departments mentored them on site.
This program afforded the students the opportunity to learn the necessary skills required to work in a grocery store. The students worked in the dairy, meat, deli, produce, bakery, and general merchandise departments, as well as on the front-end bagging and cart retrieval, and behind the scenes unloading merchandise and stocking shelves.
In addition, the students learned effective customer service skills by assisting customers in finding items and helping them to their vehicles with their groceries.
The employees at County Market enjoyed working side-by-side with the students giving them the opportunity to learn job skills. The cashiers especially loved working with one of the young men, Andrew. He was always very friendly and welcoming to all the customers. Andrew said he liked “talking with all of the old ladies”.
Makayla, one of the students, said “I liked the program because I figured out I could do things I didn’t think I could.”
She liked working in the bakery and even made her mom’s birthday cake. One of the bakery employees really took time to break down all the steps to teach each student how to do the process so the next day they could accomplish it on their own.
Michael liked all of the jobs. He is a helper by nature and enjoyed helping co-workers and customers. He learned he had valuable skills to contribute to the workplace.
Allison Fennawald, ob coach, said, “I was really impressed by the partnership with County Market. The employees of the market provided a wonderful experience for the students to learn job skills in an actual community business.”
The students were able to experience first-hand the hard work and dedication needed to succeed in a work environment and were able to reap the rewards of a paycheck for a job well done.