Clarksville, TN (May 23, 2012) – The Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC) and Habitat for Humanity ReStore have teamed up to assist young people with job readiness skills. In early July 2011, Habitat ReStore manager, Kathryn Norbeck-Dayley, contacted Nancy Hawkins, the TRC Employment Counselor, to discuss volunteer opportunities at the Restore. Shortly after that initial conversation, one young man began job skill training at the ReStore. Since then the partnership has grown exponentially. Currently, TRC has nearly 15 young adults volunteering at the ReStore. These volunteer opportunities are providing hands-on training and the ability to observe behaviors and improve skills.
“This is a fantastic community partnership which benefits both organizations immensely. The young adults from TRC are receiving valuable job readiness skills and the ReStore benefits from the much appreciated contributions these young people provide by volunteering,” remarked Norbeck-Dayley.
Volunteers are essential to supporting the Habitat ReStores mission of increasing Habitats funding to build affordable homes. With donations arriving daily, there is no shortage of work for volunteers. Since 1992, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County Tennessee has partnered with 78 qualified low-income families and their 190 children to revitalize 15 neighborhoods in Clarksville and Montgomery County through new home construction. The ReStore staff and volunteers are a vital part of that work.
The TRC volunteers are in a program that assists with the transition from school to work; working with high school seniors and recent graduates of the Clarksville Montgomery County School System. CMCSS Job Coach, Angela Bowser says, “our clients are from 5 of the high schools in our district. They attend TRC to receive job readiness skills such as how to perform job searches, filling out applications and resume building. Volunteer work has been the newest addition to weekly activities. At the Habitat ReStore the clients are learning customer service and team work.”
Students are referred to the TRC by the Vocational Rehabilitation counselor through the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. Many students who attend the TRC have mobility impairments, visual, behavioral, learning, physical, or emotional disabilities, and need assistance with learning, or re-learning, how to live as independently as possible. The TRC is a state-operated comprehensive rehabilitation facility. It is one of only eight such centers in the nation and has offices in 18 cities across the state of Tennessee. The length of programs offered at TRC varies, depending upon the individual clients interest, abilities and needs. TRC is part of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
The TRC volunteers seem to be enjoying their experience at the ReStore as well. Charles, a recent high school graduate, who is hoping to land a job soon says, “I like volunteering because it helps get me ready for a real job and how people work out in the real way of life.” And, Joseph, another recent graduate remarked, “I really like how nice the people are who I work with. I like how nice the boss is.”
The ReStore has volunteers from all walks of life. The exposure the TRC participants receive from their interactions with such a broad spectrum of people helps them learn to handle themselves, receive instruction, and follow through on tasks. Norbeck-Dayley remarked that” learning how to work with different types of folks can be one of the most challenging aspects of any job and these kids are doing a great job of assimilating. Its nice to see that in addition to building homes, Habitat can have a positive impact in the community in other ways and the work TRC does with these young people has such an enduring, tangible payoff. It feels good to be a part of it.”
The ReStore opened its doors four years ago and sells donated building materials and furniture at reduced prices to the general public. 100% of the profits support Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County. In addition to the numerous homes the ReStore has helped fund since opening in 2008, the ReStore has diverted over 570 tons of material from the landfill as well as initiated and participated in numerous community partnerships.
Assistant Manager, Shaun Rogers says “the TRC volunteers stay very busy. They clean, organize and assist customers as well as helping with several large projects weve tackled in the past few months. One of these projects was the ReStores 3rd annual Green Thumb Festival in early May. I dont know what we would have done without their help to get the store ready for this event. The ReStore is in the best shape its ever been in,” noted Rogers.