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.