Creating Opportunities for Kids
Health and wellness are affected by much more than medical care. Earning a living wage, for example, can do wonders to improve a person’s well-being. That’s one of the reasons CentraCare partnered with CareerOne, a program offered by Career Solutions, formerly known as Stearns-Benton Employment & Training Council. CareerOne serves at-risk youth, ages 14-17, providing opportunities to gain work experience, be part of a team and earn money during the summer.
In 2015, CentraCare approached Career Solutions about a partnership and donated funds to support 40 youth in St. Cloud who participated in the five-week program. It included a mix of classroom and on-site work experiences where kids teamed up on projects in the community. In 2016, CentraCare increased its support and CareerOne expanded to support 100 youth in St. Cloud and added a program in Sauk Centre with 10 kids. And in 2017, the momentum continued as the program expanded to 100 youth in St. Cloud, 20 youth in Sauk Centre and 10 kids in Paynesville.
“Words cannot describe the impact this program has had on these young lives,” said Ken Holmen, MD, president and CEO of CentraCare. “Having a summer job and getting that first work experience is something that can shape the rest of your life. We’re proud to support CareerOne because it provides opportunities for kids and offers exposure to different professions as they think about their future.”
But it’s not just experience that kids gain through this program. Each participant can earn a stipend up to $1,020 during the summer, working jobs such as supporting the grounds crew at CentraCare. They also get exposure to various health care careers – from nursing to respiratory care – by meeting with CentraCare staff who share their experiences firsthand with the kids.
The program is life changing for some, and the positive impact of the experience is on full display at the completion of the program. On the last day, participants and their families have a chance to share stories about their experience during a special luncheon. “It’s an emotional day,” said Tammy Biery, executive director of the CareerOne program. “It’s inspiring to hear the parents talk about the positive changes they’ve seen in their kids during the summer program. Thanks to CentraCare’s support, we hope to expand the program again next year.”
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