What’s the secret to success?
For one business and an earnest young man, the answer is found in a busy kitchen.
Columbia Basin Care has partnered with the Youth Transition Program, a program that prepares youth with disabilities for employment or career-related education. The program is operated collaboratively by Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the Oregon Department of Education, the University of Oregon, and local school districts throughout Oregon.
At Columbia Basin Care, Caleb Weiss concentrates on a variety of kitchen tasks — and he’s got a team cheering him on.
“An integral part of the Youth Transition Program is community partnerships,” says Yvonne Bartlett, Youth Transition Specialist for North Wasco County School District. “The program is incredibly successful, thanks to such strong support from the community and places like Columbia Basin Care.”
Bartlett works with 25 young adults. Every internship, job shadow, and job placement is chosen specifically with the students’ strengths and interests in mind. Caleb, 19, showed an interest in cooking and Columbia Basin Care was a natural fit. Columbia Basin is a community-based non-profit nursing home offering long-term and rehabilitation care. The facility prepares and serves three meals each day, every day, to over 60 residents, many with special health and dietary needs.
“Caleb has a gentleness and such a kind demeanor,” says Jill Lindstrand, Columbia Basin Care’s Kitchen Manager. “With this internship, we are working to give him tools and skills that he can learn here, and carry into other areas of his life as well.”
Though quiet and shy, Caleb offers an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the learning opportunity at Columbia Basin Care.
This is just the response Bartlett strives to see. “Each time a business owner says ‘yes’ to a Youth Transition Program participant,” she says, “they are doing more than just providing a great position. They’re giving them an opportunity that changes their lives.”