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Connecting Hope through work

Connecting Hope Day proclamation Myrtle Cole Lori Zapf

The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) is working with faith-based leaders in Southeastern San Diego to support programs that place 16-24 year-olds in work experiences. These partnerships are designed to expand the reach of CONNECT2Careers (C2C) and support the efforts and capacity of local, grass roots efforts already happening in the community.

One of these efforts is Connecting Hope. Specifically, the Connecting Hope Youth Development Initiative, which prevents violence and gang involvement in San Diego by building values, skills and successful outcomes for urban youth, also providing resources for families and support systems to encourage changes in the community that lead to personal resilience and communal wellness. Connecting Hope prides themselves on a daily contribution to individual and community well-being, believing that by sharing common values we can increase the opportunity of each individual in the community.

Connecting Hope seeks to develop relationships with existing agencies, organizations, government entities, education advocates and other stakeholders that share in their purpose of strengthening our young people’s relationship to the community. One example of this is Connecting Hope’s Community Non-Violence Project. The program is designed specifically to serve San Diego City Council Districts 2, 4, 8 and 9 where more that 40% of the potential youth workforce is unemployed. This targeted area also has a disproportionate amount of crime and violence that can be attributed to a lack of employment opportunities available to young adults.

Connecting Hope most recently employed 12 underserved youth ages 16–26—many of whom face barriers to employment such as parenting, justice system involvement and more—in landscaping jobs during the spring season. The goal is to move participants toward self-sufficiency with an enhanced appreciation of themselves, the community and society at large. Young adults were provided classroom instruction, individual and group counseling, field trips, guest lectures and hands on training with equipment used for landscaping, weed abatement and graffiti removal.

Each participant completed 120 hours of training and paid work experience, receiving training in the following areas prior to and during their work experience:

  • Work readiness
  • Value orientation
  • Life/soft skills training
  • Introduction to the world of work
  • Career exploration
  • Decision making
  • Professional business and organizational skills
  • Goal development
  • Maintaining positive work ethics
  • On the job safety issues
  • Communications skills
  • Anger management and non-violent conflict resolution
  • Team work

Getting on-the-job training as part of a work crew is a key component to the program. Participants are tasked with a variety of projects, including cleaning, painting over graffiti and removing weeds, trash and debris. Program participants also learn the appropriate use of the tools and equipment associated with sand and water blasting, landscaping and painting. Participants who successfully complete the program may also be offered employment with Connecting Hope’s social enterprise arm, which offers similar landscaping services year-round.

In recognition of the organization and its participants’ great work, May 16, 2017 was declared “Connecting Hope CDC Day” in the City of San Diego by the Council President Myrtle Cole and the City Council. For more information, visit Connecting Hope’s Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Myrtle Cole's Twitter feed.