Job Corps Featured At Cassadaga Library Series
CASSADAGA – The Cassadaga Library held the second part of Fight Cabin Fever recently; this one featured special guests from Cassadaga Job Corps.
Cassadaga Job Corps Business and Community Liaison Adam Dolce, along with CNA students Jazmin Mendez and Kolaiah Young, and Evening Program Specialist Erin Riley, spoke to area residents about their experiences at Job Corps.
Job Corps started in the 1970s at Cassadaga Village and has always been a program dedicated to youth ages 16 to 24.
“The program is about the youth and helping them on their journey through life,” Dolce said. “In order to be considered for Job Corps, the youth come from low-income families, below or at poverty level.”
This place has become a place of pride and hope for many students over the years.
“Some of these students didn’t finish high school; some did a little college; others finished college with a bachelor’s degree, but couldn’t find any work,” Dolce said. “We address who they are and what they want to achieve.”
“We provide them with the skills they need to get a job; we help them launch a career,” Dolce continued. “We give them a strong sense of pride in the work they do.”
Cassadaga Job Corps has prided themselves on a legacy of service.
“We come from a legacy of service in Cassadaga and I like to think we keep that legacy today,” Dolce said.
Job Corps serves two basic needs; ones who need to receive their high school diploma and ones who have a diploma but need to work on skills. They are broken down in two ways; academic training and career training.
The GED is gone and the United States is working on a new program called TASC which stands for Test Assessing Secondary Completion. Pen Foster Program is the bridge between them. Those who need their GED at Job Corps. are working on the Pen Foster Program now until the TASC program is brought to New York.
“The TASC test is much more difficult than the GED,” Dolce said.
“The GED involves much more reading comprehension and with TASC you need to know your history and science; it is more hands on,” Riley added.
Dolce said the nuts and bolts of the job is to teach students a trade and there are 100 different job titles to choose from at Job Corps. All the instructors have “real world” experience to help the students learn. There are currently around 225 students enrolled in Job Corps and 125 employees.
“The CNA program is our bread and butter; we get up to 115 graduates a year from this program,” Dolce said. “Every week we have students graduating and coming in so there is a constant turnover.”
The Job Corps is completely free. Every student has their meals and dorm paid for and does not have to pay tuition. There are up to four females who share a room and anywhere from two to four males share a room. There is a no drug and no violence rule which is taken very seriously. If a student breaks these rules they are kicked out of the program.
Riley, 29, of Fredonia took psychology at SUNY Fredonia and has been working at Job Corps for going on six years now. She started out as a resident assistant and is now an Evening Program Specialist.
“My main goal is to provide students with real world experience,” she said. “We do voting, taxes, and balancing check books as well as fun things like cake decorating.”
Young, 21, originally from Brooklyn, moved to Buffalo where he graduated from Cheektowaga Central High in 2011.
“I was taking care of my 64-year-old father,” he said. “A friend told me about Job Corps.”
Young has been in the Job Corps for five months and really loves it.
“I learned a lot about myself,” he said. “Nobody can tell me I can’t do nothing.”
Young addressed his future plans.
“I want to do the LPN program; after a year go to Erie Community College; after that go to University at Buffalo for a nursing degree and work in a hospital,” he said.
Young added his passion for this work comes from his father’s death.
“My father died two years ago from a bed sore,” he said. “I want to know what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again to others.”
Mendez, 21, of Dinuba, Calif., has been in Job Corps for almost four months now and she loves it.
“I grew up moving around a lot since my mom is in the Navy,” she said. “I got into trouble after graduating high school; when I would get some life back I never really kept it together.”
Mendez added although she grew up in a structured environment she never really had any respect for authority.
“People would tell me I had potential,” she said. “Job Corps is a whole new environment and it took some getting used to.”
Mendez agreed with Young on finding herself at Job Corps.
“I am an active mentor on campus and people ask me for advice all the time,” she said. ” I have gotten awards for growth and development which have made me proud of myself.”
Mendez wants to take the LPN program, become a veterinarian someday and even one day return to Job Corps as an employee.
“I have a big heart when it comes to people, but I grew up on a farm,” she said. “I am a nurturer of humans and animals.”
“I am fond of this town it reminds me a lot of home,” she continued. “Job Corps has had a big impact on my life. I want to help students grow and give back.”
Job Corps works with students on three major areas after completion: job placement, college placement, and military placement. They provide help for placement for up to a year after completion and for a year after they are placed they keep up with them and how they are doing.
“There are a half a dozen students a year who go in the Army or Navy and we have a wall of heroes dedicated to them at Job Corps,” Dolce said.