EASD building ‘Better Future’ for these students

By on February 24, 2016

The Ephrata Area School District’s Project Build a Better Future program is aimed at giving students in need of additional life skills training a boost through a new approach.

Based at the Ephrata High School facility on Washington Avenue, the program centers around a hands-on approach to teaching students a wide range of skills needed for effective independent life after graduation. These skills can range from housekeeping and budgeting, to job searching and team building skills, once a job has been found.

Recently, students of the program got the opportunity to work together to help Homes of Hope prep one of their three apartments for new tenants.

Homes of Hope is a local non-profit ministry that works under the umbrella of Love In the Name of Christ or LoveINC. It is a group that works to offer short-term, transitional housing and support to homeless persons in the Ephrata and Akron areas. Currently, Homes of Hope owns three homes in the Ephrata area.

Students from Project Build a Better Future were given an opportunity to earn real life job training preparing a unit when one of the Homes of Hope residences was recently vacated.

Pastor Joe Hyatt, New Beginnings Brethren in Christ Church of Ephrata, who was present the day Project Build a Better Future students were finishing up work on the house, is one of several local pastors actively involved with Homes of Hope. He explained the impact his program is having on local families.

“There is just such a tremendous need for such programs in Ephrata,” Hyatt said. “There are families doubled up, or living in hotels or in tents.”

Locally, a number of groups are working overtime to try to address the huge cumulative list of issues faced by these families. Home of Hope works closely with the social workers at Ephrata Area School District, among others, to assure that the needs of children and their families are being met. Those who eventually live in a Homes of Hope home go through an intake program and are mentored through a variety of life skills aimed at helping families become whole again.

For the Project Build a Better Future students, the first benefit of participating in the program is a renewed sense of connection with fellow classmates.

Working together toward a common goal brought the students together and developed a sense of morale among them. It also taught them that they needed to work together in order to achieve the required objectives. In order to eventually achieve superior performance for an employer, students learned that they had to perform their duties the very first time to a satisfactory quality. Additionally, they learned that they had to perform their duties within a very specific period of time.

Each of the program students exhibited enthusiasm and each cooperated with one another to assure the project was completed with pride.

Their teacher, Patrice Laboranti, was also on hand along with Francie Wiker, a social worker with EASD and a liaison with Homes of Hope.

Those who participated in prepping the residence for the next tenant included Dakota Sweigart, Phoenix Moyer, Matthew Fulton and Ben Nicholson.

“It’s awesome,” Nicholson said of the experience. “I hope to get out of my mom’s house. I’m ready to be independent. I like doing this for the community of Ephrata and I can do it myself. I’m a hard worker.”

Moyer echoed Nicholson’s enthusiasm.

“The work was hard but it was worth it,” Moyer said.

“It was hard work but it was pretty fun,” Fulton said. “It was a fast, full day.”

Throughout the project, Hyatt, Laboranti, Wiker and all of the adult staffers looked on with pride, enjoying the connection and camaraderie they had established between the students and their mission. These were students who wanted to be right there, working hard, working together, and working toward a common cause greater than themselves or some grade on a report card.

“One of our goals in working with Homes of Hope and the school district is to be able to keep families within the school district for continuity,” Hyatt said. “We are mostly working with families.”

By working together with Homes of Hope, the Project Build a Better Future students were given a unique ability to not only gain personal job training but to also gain insight into a valuable local ministry which could use their help while at the same time helping others have a better future.

Throughout their project, these hard working students had quite an impact on this local residence. They gave the home a thorough cleaning, from top to bottom, scrubbing the bathroom and kitchen, floors, appliances, walls and carpets.

Laboranti said the unit was geared to specifically teach her students work skills, problem solving, team building skills, as well as very specific skills relative to the house, such as replacing light bulbs, housekeeping and home maintenance.

Also assisting with the Homes of Hope project were several para-educators/aids with the school district including Tricia Keiser, Felicia Matrorilli, and Jessica Yancoskie.

Project Build a Better Future is offered to the Life Skills students at Ephrata High School. As part of that program, a classroom at EHS@Washington was converted to an apartment setting where students who need to focus on transition will be able to have hands-on experiences with cooking, cleaning, and living life independently.

In addition, students are being taught about the use of public transportation, work and volunteer opportunities, and resources available to them in the Ephrata community. Many students have already had opportunities to intern in the community and eventually work independently.

For additional information of Ephrata Area School District, visit easdpa.org. Additional information on Homes of Hope can be found on their Facebook page, facebook.com/ephratahomesofhope or through by visiting loveinclancaster.org. Gary P. Klinger always welcomes your questions and feedback via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com

One Comment

  1. Peggy stoll

    November 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Thank you for the opportunity to teach an art class to the Ephrata project build a better future students at squeeze spot in Ephrata on Friday. My experience was wonderful and greatly appreciated. The students were attentive, interested and enjoyed the thanksgiving day project. God bless you all and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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