LOGAN — Do you remember your first summer job, your first boss, your first paycheck? Certainly those days have a huge impact on anyone lucky enough to have had that strong foundation.

HAPCAP (Hocking Athens Perry Community Action Program) is providing summer employment once again this year. Youth between the ages of 14 and 24 work as volunteers at local businesses, but are paid through HAPCAP.

They are tasked with gaining job experiences, setting job and education goals and exploring possible careers. With closely monitored adult support, the youth work through the process called Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP).

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services offers this program that helps young adults from low-income situations. It is a widespread effort to break the cycle of poverty throughout the State of Ohio, according to a Fact Sheet issued by ODJFS on their website at www.jfs.ohio.gov.

While in the program, youth and young adults gain from what is offered for their unique needs. Among the services available are: paid and unpaid work experiences, career coaching, education and career training, tutoring, preparing for college or work credential training, transportation, childcare, housing, uniforms, work tools, starting a business, budgeting, GED preparation, counseling, mentoring and leadership development.

Funding is provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act youth program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to offer more coordinated, individualized services. 

The ultimate goal from the state's perspective is to help participants build life-long, sustainable careers.

In Hocking County, there are 13 participants placed at worksites, according to Kathleen Vandervaart, Employment Services Coordinator for HAPCAP.

"Sometimes we place participants at sites where we think they have a shot of getting hired on permanently. We may place participants somewhere that will help them improve their resume by having relevant work experience to their future career. Another placement reason would be so the participant can explore a career that they are considering. Lastly, some participants may have no experience at all, so the focus at their placement would be to develop soft skills and professionalism that will help them out in any future job," explained Vandervaart.

Many local worksites have become part of this program. Vandervaart shared that Rural Action, the Logan-Hocking County District Library, the Rural Feeding Program at HAPCAP, Logan Care and Rehab, and the Hocking County Humane Society are all involved this summer.

CCMEP started in 2016, but according to Vandervaart, summer employment programs have taken place for years. And, CCMEP has seen four participants since 2016 get hired by their worksite with permanent employment. 

Breaking the cycle of poverty is not just about getting people jobs, it is about giving opportunities for them to change their lifestyle.

Having the wide variety of support services available for the CCMEP participants will provide the strong foundation for participants to interact in the Hocking County community in a positive, supportive way as they grow over the years.

For additional information, Vandervaart can be contacted at 740-385-6813 ext. 2240.

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