ATTAIN Site: Jefferson County ATTAIN Lab Manager
The Power of Personal Growth
When the term “North Country” is spoken in the midst of our New York winter months, many individuals think, “Oh, those poor souls cooped up in their homes, suffering to stay warm and make it to work during the few days of winter they don’t see 3 to 5 feet of snow fall.” While this might be true for some North Country folks, the Jefferson County ATTAIN lab was still out and about in the community building new and exciting partnerships. In mid-February, the Jefferson County ATTAIN Lab built a strong relationship with the local children’s home.
The mission of the Children’s Home of Jefferson County is to provide a therapeutic home for children who have been experiencing difficulties in their surroundings and to develop an individual treatment plan for each child that promotes a safe and structured lifestyle. Through guidance, counseling, support, structure, academics, and recreation children can build the skills needed to become contributing and active members of the community. With enthusiasm and program development the Jefferson County ATTAIN lab was able to become a dynamic part of making each child’s treatment plan a success. As ATTAIN lab managers, Jamie and I worked diligently to create a specific program that would enhance each child’s computer skills, motivation, career awareness and academic skills as well as achieve other goals and respect. For months, we worked with these individuals week after week, and at the end of our time together we saw truant, disruptive and inattentive kids become motivated, self-disciplined and eager to become aware of a community that exists outside the walls of substance abuse, pregnancy, youth violence, and failure.
Each week individuals at the Children’s Home came to the ATTAIN lab and actively involve themselves in computer literacy. In You Can Make It Happen, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, resume building, workplace attitudes, and career awareness. Recently, these children worked hard with their counselors and the ATTAIN lab to prepare themselves for the annual 2007 job fair sponsored by the Jefferson County Children’s Home. Over the last month, these individuals researched jobs in the local area, built strong, successful resumes, and diligently mastered the interview process. For many of the children it wasn’t easy building a successful resume on their past experiences or even understand the importance of what a strong interview can do for a person, but with time, patience and enthusiasm these children rose above all expectations. The day came when these children had the opportunity to show off their hard work and skills to make it in today’s job market. Jamie and I were so proud of the accomplishments they made when they left our room one Wednesday afternoon, not expecting, but happy, to hear a kid call out, “You guys are coming to see us at the job fair aren’t you?” As we were unsure of what we had going on for classes that next week or if we were even welcome, another child came over and softly whispered, “You have to come-I wouldn’t have been able to get this far without the two of you.” At that moment we both knew that our hard work paid off and we would be more than honored to attend such a gratifying event.
A week passed and it came time to visit the children at the job fair. We walked into the event and were amazed at how beautiful and professional each of the children looked in their shirts and ties, skirts, and even suits. As we walked around in delight, we began to realize that children who once ran the streets, spent time in the juvenile court system and often failed, found it in themselves to rise above their pasts. The Children’s Home and the ATTAIN lab in combination with each individual child’s effort was able to promote a positive learning environment that fostered motivation, skills development, and self-efficacy. These children were able to build their spirits, find self-respect, and become motivated by the opportunity for success. We saw this very success through each child’s performance at the job fair and the only thank you we needed was knowing that we had the opportunity to aide in their personal growth.