SISTERS, OR -- After losing its original Redmond location, Heart of Oregon’s Youth Build Program is settling into its new partnership with the Sisters School District. Program Director Kara Johnson says students helped remodel the vacant Cloverdale Preschool last fall, where they now hold classes and construction training. She says the program, which began in Redmond in 2009, is designed to help get at-risk students back on track and ready for life after high school. "What we’re doing on the construction site too, and in the classroom environment, is teaching the soft skills for employment. Work ethic, they’re creating a resume, they’re doing mock interviews with volunteers in the program. We have mentors, whether it be in the classroom or on the construction site. But, no, they don’t have to be involved in construction. We have a lot of young people who finish the program and go into post-secondary education at COCC or they go into other types of employment."
Right now, there are 22 students in the program, ranging in age from 16 to 24. Katrina is one of those students, commuting everday from Prineville. She tells KBND she joined the yearlong Youth Build program in January, after nearly dropping out of high school. "It’s more personal, and they do try to say “hey, here are your goals, here’s how you get to your goals, let us assist you. And they are really interested in what you want to do with the rest of your life." Johnson says Katrina's story isn't inique. "Young people who’ve been in the program in the past, they’ll tell me, 'last year, I attended school maybe half time.' They come to Youth Build and their attendance increases to about 80-90%. What’s also awesome about our program is that we pay our young people a living stipend. They’re earning about $100 per week and if they have 100% attendance, we give them a $20 bonus per week."