Timothy Durocher, who spent the summer working in the mayor's office at City Hall, speaks about his experiences and the program.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Timothy Durocher spent his summer helping update the city's employee handbook, fixing broken links throughout the city's website and doing research on potential hosts for a new website.
Durocher was one of 20 students who successfully completed this year's summer programs that brought young people into participating businesses and organizations to experience not only a work environment but tryout potential careers.
"Through our summer work experiences, we learned about the importance of having a solid work ethic, developed our foundational and employability skills and how to work as a professional in the workplace," Durocher told the gathering in the City Council chambers on Thursday morning. "Our host employers were pleased with the program and the opportunity it provides Northern Berkshire youth to develop employability and job-specific skills while helping to sustain and populate the Northern Berkshire business community."
Participants in the North Adams Youth Works Program and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts/Berkshire Community College Summer Academy Program from North Berkshire were recognized for their efforts and awarded certificates at a brief ceremony.
Participants interned at the Brayton School Summer Science Camp and the Mary Jezyk Sunshine Camp, Northern Berkshire Family YMCA, Adams Youth Center, Hoosac Valley High School administrative office, the mayor's office in City Hall, town of Adams, Porches Inn, the 1896 House Inn, iBerkshires.com, the North Adams Neighborhood Basketball League and Northern Berkshire ROPES camp.
Their programs included up to 10 hours of work readiness training and summer academy students completed 42 hours and were able to gain up to six college credits for two classes and North Adams Youth Works students 125 hours of paid work experience. Sponsored by Berkshire Works and Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, interns were also paid for their work.
Ten students total participated through the Youth Works program — seven from Drury High School and one each from McCann Technical School, Hoosac Valley High School and Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School. Ten participated through the Summer Academy, designed for students in the classes of 2018 and 2019 who may need additional support in preparing for college and offers a paid volunteer internship.
Michele Boyer-Vivori, North Adams Youth Works coordinator, introduced Durocher, who will attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst this fall to study political science. He also will be part of the marching band and enrolled in Reserve Office Training Corps.
Molly Meczywor, Summer Academy Program coordinator and Mayor Thomas W. Bernard presented the certificates and described where the students had worked and a little about their futures.
"The coolest thing is when we see them at the end of the program, we really see the growth," Meczywor said. In visiting with employers during the program, "They were really proud of the initiative that the students demonstrated through the course of the program and that being one of the main employability skills ... they're really gaining skills and being able to demonstrate them in a variety of ways."
In addition to thanking the participating public and private employers, Meczywor pointed to the sponsors that had contributed more than $26,000 to make the programs possible: Capital One, Mountain One, First Congregational Church of Williamstown and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation for the North Adams Youth Works Program and MCLA and BCC for the Summer Academy.
iBerkshires, as one of the participating employers, worked with Matthew McGrory from McCann Technical School. His proud mother, Joyce McGrory, thought it was a tremendous opportunity for her son to be working in a professional job during the summer while also earning college credits.
"I think he's developed an appreciation for what he'll do in the future and for all the things that other people in the working world do," she said. "He has really developed a liking for Berkshire County and has expressed a desire to stay in the area ... I am so pleased this program existed."
Matt McGrory worked afternoons at iBerkshires learning editing, interviewing and writing and several of his articles published on the site.
"I got some experience in the workplace, specifically in the field of journalism, which gives me something to think about when I consider my possible careers for the future," the rising senior said.
The considerations for staying in the Berkshires was a bonus of the program, said Bernard, feeling students and recent graduates were able to see the potential for careers that will encourage them to stay in the area.
"I know from my experience that you made a positive difference at every one of those host sites and you made the employers you work with proud," he said to the program graduates. "You learned some important things. You learned job skills, how to build and hone those skills, what's expected in a particular job, the role of showing up on time, communication and teamwork, how to network, how to go for your next job ...
"You probably learned a little bit about yourself and your interests in the process, things you might want to explore further."
North Adams Youth Works Program: Taylor Boillat, Cove Massey-Carver, Cristina Cassidy, Denvil Dunn, Heavenly Dunn, Timothy Durocher, Armoni Ellerbee-Berkley, Brittani Pontier, Josie Saunders and Kierstan Thomann.
MCLA/BCC Summer Academy North Berkshire participants: Laura Corsi, Kelby LeSage, Matt McGrory, Casey Meczywor, Pamela Pixley, Seth Sarkis-Hanbery and Sara Tomkiewicz.
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