An agency attempting to get local at-risk young adults on the right path is looking for more clients to say yes to their offer.
Triangular Processing of Wauseon runs the YES program which helps people ages 16-24 get a GED, a driver’s license, and a chance at a job.
“We work with youth, but primarily with adults 18-24 because we feel they have the most need to find employment, get their GEDs so they can better serve the community,” director Teresa Haas said. “Our focus with the 16-17-1/2-year-olds is to try and make sure they can get a driver’s license so they can get some job placement even if it’s just part-time work.”
The goal is to make sure the younger students graduate from high school, Haas said.
The program gives the participants a support system to get them to the point where they can function as a productive adult and obtain gainful employment. A majority come from foster care or the juvenile court system.
“Some come from lower income families,” Haas said. “They just don’t have the means to do the things they need to do.”
That includes getting a car, a license.
In the Step program, 18-24-year-olds learn life skills, anger management, skills to succeed when interviewing for a job, CPR training, OSHA training certification and basic cooking skills. The latter are for those with small children and may not have time to cook a meal, they are taught how to use a crock pot.
One such student is Jacob. The 20-year-old got his GED, paid for by the YES program. He had a job interview set up and Haas is confident he will get the job.
“He’s not going from dead-end job to dead-end job,” Haas said. “He’s trying to learn a trade.”
Jacob said the job involves machining. He will have to make it through a six-week training program at the Wauseon plant.
A few other graduates are looking to obtain a certificate from Northwest State which the program is paying for. The college program is the State Tested Nurses Assistant.
“We can pay for a certificate program and things of that nature, but we cannot pay for tuition,” Haas said.
The program is funded by a federal grant.
Triangular Processing has been in charge of the program since Aug. 1 and needs a total of 65 participants by this summer to maintain its grant, Haas said.
“We are still learning the guidelines,” Haas said. “We need more people.”
The program gets referrals from Jobs and Family Services and the court system. Anyone in the age group may apply, but applicants are encouraged to check for qualifications.
“We have an office in the Detwiler building (by Ohio Means Jobs) and here,” Haas said.
Applicants need to be aware the program calls on their applications.
“We check up on them, but they don’t always answer their phones,” Haas said. “We have a problem with people following through. Those that do follow through seem to have a lot of success.”
Haas and her staff will also text and email to get in contact with applicants.
The program also has a commercial on WMTR 96.1 FM to get the word out.
The program has nine participants now, including Jacob. There are six to seven applications pending, she said.
Sixty-five for the year is the target, but realistically the program should have another 30-40 people by July.
The schedule is 4 hours a day for four weeks, so about 20 hours. Lunches and gas vouchers are provided. The program pays for new interview outfits for the students.
Haas shops with the females and Marty Friess shops with the boys.
Jacob, a Delta resident, started at the Detwiler Building in the NOCAC office with his dad.
“Marty passed by me, he used to be my principal, and asked how me about high school,” Jacob said.
Friess told Jacob about the program, and despite being skeptical, called Friess and got enrolled.
“It was the best thing I did,” Jacob said. “Instead of a tangible thing, it made me believe in myself. I didn’t ever think of a career, I thought I would only be the bottom of the barrel.
“He taught me to believe in me. I can do whatever I want to be able to do.”
High school didn’t matter to Jacob, he said. But now he is looking forward to becoming a machinist.
Jacob’s story is common. The students are getting support for the first time and can develop self-confidence, Haas said.
“I can see it in Jacob’s face,” Haas said. “The day he got his GED, he couldn’t stop smiling.
Haas invites anyone who meets the criteria to come in and talk. Jacob encourage his peers to get involved.
“We don’t judge,” Jacob said.
For more information, call 419-337-9640.
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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