Lindsay finds more than expected in local employment program
This past year I wasn’t in a great place and didn’t have a lot of hope that anything would change. School was not going very well and I tried for months and months to find a job but the only ones I could get, if any, were in super stressful situations with unkind managers.
I felt very anxious. Mainstream school was too hard and didn’t really work out for me. I tried a little side program and sort of lost my place at school. Everyone told me that online schooling was difficult and not worth it. I was running out of options and didn’t know how I was going to graduate.
That is when I found out about the YMCA Jumpstart Program. At first, I was completely against it, but decided to give it a try. It took some time but, by the third week, I started to see a lot of stuff change inside myself. I became more open, and it changed a lot of the ways I think. Before I was very negative and low about everything. Now I feel more open minded. Jumpstart taught me how to be more willing with opportunities coming my way.
One of the worries I had was that the teachers or administrators weren’t going to understand my mental health, but they’re very, I would almost say protective, over each kid's mental health. They had daily check ins. They would always say that if anything was going on that they wanted us to feel comfortable telling them. They were very understanding. There were a couple of days where I wasn’t doing too well and wasn’t the most productive, but they never made me feel ashamed of my feelings.
We learned about social anxiety and how to work with people. I understand better how to have mature conversations, which helps me in the workplace. I still have anxiety, but it has been reduced and is manageable now. I’ve been given some new tactics and ways to cope.
The teachers ensured everyone was comfortable and helped us decide what was important to focus on based on our situation. They were great at pushing us to do our best, but not in a way where we didn’t feel safe or heard.
They also helped me with my schooling, I had conversations with them about how many more years I needed to go through to graduate. They were always welcome to the idea of helping me with any courses I wanted to look at or that I was interested in. I got some of my schooling done which was a big improvement for me.
Now I finally have a job that I love! Three weeks in I got an interview with Cannery Brewing and by the fourth week, I started working shifts. I’m doing dishwashing and food prep and I really enjoy it there. We’re like a little close-knit family. Everyone is super close and nice. We’ve all got each other's backs and watch over one another.
Since starting the program, I’ve grown in many ways and feel as though my life is coming together. I’ve learned that as long as you focus on what you want and keep moving towards that, you will see progress.
YMCA Jumpstart to Employment is a free life skills and employment program for youth aged 16-30. Stories like Lindsay’s would not be possible without the support of generous donors who keep vital YMCA programs and services free or subsidized to those who truly need them. They have grown immensely, personally and professionally through the program, all thanks to donor funding.
Everyone, regardless of financial circumstances, can access services for their health and well-being at the Y. If you are able, please consider making a financial contribution or joining our team of volunteers today.