Youthful crew makes quick work of Village chores

PHILMONT—A funding boost for the Summer Youth Employment Program paid for services of a youthful work crew whose efforts spruced up the Village.
   The youth employment program is operated by the Workforce Investment Office at Columbia-Greene Community College.
   For the past nine years the program was funded solely through the state Temporary Assistance for Needy Family program, but this summer the program nearly doubled in size with funding from the federal stimulus package.
   The extra funding encouraged Mark Decker, program manager, to engage non-profits groups who had not used the program before to take advantage of the opportunity.
   “It’s a win/win program. The kids earn money, get employment experience, and the organizations get free labor,” Mr. Decker said in a press release.
   One of the new program participants was the Village of Philmont, which also took the largest work crew. Village Trustee Robin Andrews, who supervised the program for the Village, thought having a crew to work on walking trails at the recently acquired land at Summit Heights, would be a good use of a summer work group.
   They were looking for three to four trail workers and then another smaller crew to paint around the Village, but at Mr. Decker’s suggestion hired a crew of seven for the trail work, and a supervisor.
   The work scheduled for the first week was finished in one morning. This left Ms. Andrews looking for other work in the Village to be done.
   The Workforce crew helped with the new library addition foundation, cleaned up storm damage at Forest Lake, painted the sewer plant garage and all the fire hydrants, weeded and cleaned up the lake area for the fishing derby, helped with the labyrinth art project on the Village green and rough cut the trail areas.
   Ms. Andrews said the crew worked hard and she was proud of them, according to the release.
Village Trustee Brian Johnson managed the two-person painting crew, who painted all the buildings at Memorial Field and more. Mr. Johnson praised the program and said the village will participate again.
   The Village benefited from more than 35 hours of manpower, almost every day for six weeks—all free of charge to the Village.
   Many chores the Department of Public Works did not have time to do were accomplished. Village residents even pitched in and offered the use of their extra tools, so the Village didn’t have to purchase additional equipment.
   Philmont was the only municipality that used the program. The services of other youths were spread throughout both counties, working at a large variety of non-profits, including the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, the Fireman’s Home, The Pines at Catskill and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
   The youths, who are paid minimum wage, received regular evaluations, and have weekly meetings with the Workforce Investment staff, where they participate in career planning
and work readiness activities.
   The participants finish off the summer program by having a resume and often letters of recommendation for their files, according to Mr. Decker, who said he hoped the success of this year’s program will encourage the federal government to support the effort again next year. Until 1999, the federal government had a 30-plus year history of supporting a Summer Youth Employment Program, he said.
   Non-profits interested in applying for the program for next summer can do so by contacting the Workforce Investment Office at Columbia-Greene Community College at (518) 828-4181 X 5510.

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