The program got Destane Pope-White's foot in the door and now it has turned into a full-time, permanent job.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Destane Pope-White felt it was better to just do something rather than wait.
She was applying for jobs but not having much luck. She decided to enter the Youth Works program through MassHire Berkshire Career Center. The program is state-funded pays the wages for youth to work in various local companies. Pope-White ended up working for Jae's Spice this summer.
"I was a little discouraged. I was job searching and couldn't find anything. It took me to get into a program to be making some money again. I thought at least I am doing something, I'm not just sitting around waiting," Pope-White said. "This has helped me a lot. It got me a permanent job."
Jae's isn't going to let her go. The program helped create a path to meaningful employment for her and it is foundation for a total of 46 area youth who worked through 23 different companies. The program provides 125 hours of employment.
"Each worksite created quality jobs and provided appropriate tasks to help participants acquire new skills," said Youth Program Coordinator Kelly Groves-Skrocki.
The program is intended to provide coaching and mentorship to help young people take the first step in their careers. It has been ongoing in Pittsfield for 15 years, and for the last six Guardian Life Insurance has contributed.
"To date, Pittsfield has provided over 600 youth with employment opportunities through this program," Groves-Skrocki said.
On Friday, those in the program were honored for their summer efforts. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said the honor is deserved because not everyone was accepted into the program and not everyone completed it.
"That is our gift to you, that strong, first, sturdy step," Farley-Bouvier said.
Farley-Bouvier said each one of the graduates one day will be employers or supervisors and she called on them to provide the same support to future generations. She asked them to take on the responsibility of helping other youths get their starts.
"This step that has been built for you is that first step on a career ladder," Farley-Bouvier said. "When you have a stable foundation in a work, career path, then that path is so much easier."
Mayor Linda Tyer presented each of the graduates with certificates in City Council chambers Friday to honor the occasion. The event included testimonials from employers and past and current participants praising the program.
Daniela Herrera was one of those speakers whose involvement with MassHire Berkshire Career Center extended beyond that first job. Herrera wasn't able to finish high school as she was taking care of her grandmother who had cancer. At the age of 20, she was struggling to find a job because of that lack of a diploma when her mother suggested MassHire.
Herrera said the organization helped get her into and complete her high school equivalency, then helped her with resume building, and she ended up being hired by Berkshire Medical Center. And it didn't end there. She went back to MassHire to help her apply to college and she's been accepted to BYU.
After a decade of success in Pittsfield, the state provided funding to expand the program in North Adams. Last week, MassHire recognized the efforts of 11 youth who participated in the North Adams program.
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PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.
An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."
Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.
"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program. "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."
The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.
The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.
"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select. The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.
The board voted 3-2 on Monday to allow the bar on Lake Pontoosuc to open up seating and serve beer and wine on its patio under the governor's orders for Phase 2 that allows for outside dining.
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