This summer, The Next Door employed several youth, including two crew leaders, through a grant-funded program called Summer Youth Employment.
Many days consisted of tearing down barbed wire fences that were trapping and killing wildlife. The harmful fencing was meticulously wrapped and taken to be recycled. Other days, they cleared out trails that haven’t been touched in years, so they can be enjoyed by the public once again. These tasks required intense team work and communication.
The youth learned other lessons along the way too. One said he learned that respecting other’s opinions and thoughts are important. Another found out that if he is put in a stressful situation, he can rise to the challenge, help people, and stay focused. Another said he learned how to block out the noise of other people and focus on patience and forgiveness. His new-found self-concept is that he is a helpful person and is eager to be the first person to see if someone needs help.
The Next Door’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) has provided a win-win-win since 2009, stated a press release. The first win is for the young people who are employed 40 hours per week for at least eight weeks each summer. They earn a good salary while learning essential job skills. The second win is for natural resources, since the program partners with the U.S. Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest and the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area to help with campground cleanup, trail maintenance, structure construction, providing interpretive guides, and other jobs that improve outdoor areas that make the community what it is. And the third win is for The Next Door — to be able to fulfill its mission of “strengthening children” and “improving communities.”