There are so many houses in our neighborhood in need of attention and repair. Skills in the trades can transform these neighborhoods and give people the freedom to own their own home!
Last Friday we brought the whole gang out as we painted the porch. It is amazing what a little paint can do to brighten up a space.
Painting is one of those skills than anyone can learn relatively quickly. With just the right amount of care and persistence, any job can be made quick work. Especially, when everyone chips in.
The Community House still needs more love, but it is definitely looking brighter and brighter as we become more visible and are able to connect with more of our neighbors.
Good weather and lots of loving attention one day at a time, the Community House can become a beacon of hope in the community.
Our first session of our First Apprentice Crew was a success. The first task was to come up with the Principles the Crew would uphold. Much like the Ambassadors of Kindness for our after school program, the First Apprentice is designed to support character development, especially with regards to the work environment. So our Crew put their heads together and came us with some fabulous ideas.
First and foremost was Good Manners. We don't always see that these days, especially in teenagers. Next was Communication- Wow! That is something we all need. Then, Reliability: be on time, and on task, next was Respect: for coworkers, the customer and their things. Finally, the crew came up with Honesty! What more can you want from contractors?
They started our first job of painting Melanie's room. She probably wouldn't have appreciated the mural of random colors, that was more my style. So it was to be painted a subtle and neutral greyish purple. The finished product was beautiful if I do say so myself. Great work on our first project!
The First Apprentice is the gemstone of this community project, without a doubt, and yet I have had the greatest difficulty in moving it forward. During our Course Strengthening Your Core, part of our Consciousness Explorations series, I tuned into this project once again. Our question for the session was whether our actions were in alignment with our goals? In some cases, it seemed I was sabotaging the First Apprentice. I had tried hiring two different professional construction workers, but it was too soon, and they had other jobs to attend to. I also wound up filling up the garage with clothing for our rummage sale. What was I doing? Would this project ever get off the ground? We were asked to consider two things. First, does the project align with our values, the answer was a resounding yes. Second, if it did align, was there another way in which this goal could begin to be realized.
It was clear that I had been too attached to the idea of the specific way in which the First Apprentice was supposed to move forward. A new idea came to me. What if we took what we were already doing and combine it with the goals of the First Apprentice program, creating the culture together.
This entire project has been one of a slow emergence. In many ways, this is a powerful approach as it allows the culture to develop. We are working hard to build a culture of kindness, and it seems to be working with our small group of Kindness Ambassadors. I mean we already have two members who have reached Level 2! So why not use the same small scale approach with our First Apprentice program.
The opportunity is already in front of me.
Joe has been my handyman on projects around the houses for awhile now, and Chevy has done amazing artwork with the kids at the Community House, why not join forces for our new dynamic duo!
So today will be our first day of First Apprentice Crew. Here we will have Joe and Chevy start working together to create a culture of responsibility and respect, gratitude and communication. We haven't gotten the entire plan in place, but that is a powerful way to create a new program. Working together with Chevy and Joe, and our first Crew Member Davion, we will create a new program.
Since this project works by a reflective evolving assessment of needs, it is important to create protocols for what seems to be working. These are meant to be living documents that can be changed to fit the needs of the evolving situation.
Our first visit with Jason was great, and he sat down and helped the members of the Art Garage think of designs for desks as part of our first project. Then they carved their names in wood blocks with a Dremel tool. (I love a Dremel tool).
Yet, some of the boys who would be most well served by the project seemed to lose interest and left for some trampoline time. Basically, I can see now that these projects are still too big. It will take too long to get moving into action. The projects are still too far off in the distance, and no one got a chance to use any power tools.
When I created the initial plan, we were to start with two projects. Both of these I thought were small, but in reality, even those projects were probably too big. We needed smaller projects, things that need to be done anyway and that are common jobs any crew member might encounter. These small odd jobs can become our initial phase. Our initial phase project list, will become our phase two, and our phase two will be our phase three.
Evolve or Die as they say.
Click the button to see our plan:
I believe the first apprentice program will become the gem of the Community House. We have yet to really get it started. There were a couple false starts, and a few activities that would qualify as the type of experiences we are hoping to provide in the first apprentice program.
So what is The First Apprentice anyway?
In our formational documents we describe it as follows:
The First Apprentice program targets the most at-risk population in the neighborhood served by The Community House Network, i.e. males from ages 12-17+. We know biologically this is a stage when boys take potentially life-threatening risks. The First Apprentice program is designed to give these teens opportunities to learn useful life skills. In addition, the First Apprentice Program encourages developing a small-business mind-set. As such, it focuses on aspects of professionalism, such as promptness, cleanliness, manners, responsibility, thoroughness, politeness, honesty, fairness and respectfulness.
The program is focused on pairing the youth with mentors who will support their development personally and emotionally while engaging in hands-on activities designed to build awareness of and skills utilized by the trades. Activities can include actual engagement in beautifying and enhancing the homes in the community, or can be building small projects such as lamps, or bird houses.
In order to work from the basis of building meaningful relationships, male volunteers in the community will be connected to youth participating in the First Apprentice programming via our Mentor-Apprentice pairing process. This will begin with interviewing Mentor Vetting Process developed for working with teens in the First Apprentice Program.
Older youth participating in the First Apprentice and/or Second Career programming may also serve as mentors to the younger participating members.
I can see that some of my thinking has evolved since building the framework. I am still very interested in the relationship building element, but the way in which to do this may be through more informal experiences.
What helped create the clarity is the arrival of Jason Pickles. He owns his own construction business "Everything Under the Roof!" He has been in business for decades and has even taught his own children the trades. He had previously been involved with a non-profit called Neighborhood Heroes, and is passionate about making a difference in our world!
I can't wait for him to start to get to know the kids and build those essential connections as he teaches them about his trade.