PYO July 2015 Newsletter

Hamm Siu is headed to Durham Tech.

Hamm Siu is headed to Durham Tech.

Dear PYO Community,

Look at what has been happening over the last few weeks:

More Graduate Congratulations

The school year is over but there is still always room for more congratulations. To honor our program and high school graduates we will be holding our annual End of the Year Celebration Friday, July 31 at 5 p.m. This is a time PYO takes to honor all the hard work students have put in the last few years and celebrate the beginnings of their future success.

Josh Thompson will be attending school on scholarship in Wyoming

Josh Thompson will be attending school on scholarship in Wyoming

Students we will honor include:

  • Trina A.
  • Keo K.
  • Kieara C.
  • Antonio C.
  • Josh T.
  • Zubair S.
  • Aniyah M.
  • Zhana T.
  • T’Asia B.
  • Emmanuel J.
  • Hamm S.
  • Li P.

Best wishes to all of you and your families. Congratulations!!

Summer Job Training and Camp Connect Begin

Teresa S. & Jenna L. show off their critical thinking/teamwork collaboration project for summer intensive week.

Teresa S. & Jenna L. show off their critical thinking/teamwork collaboration project for summer intensive week.

Beginning with summer intensive week the final week of June, PYO’s summer job training is off to a start. Keeping in the tradition of YO:Durham and through the graciousness of our host, M&F Bank, students gather to learn the skills that help them gain summer and year-long internships.

Summer intensive is a week long training in which PYO’s youngest students, high school freshman and sophomores, gain the basic skills, such as understanding punctuality and clear communication with supervisors and coworkers, as they head into six weeks of summer work. Summer jobs students are working this year include Democracy North Carolina, Durham’s Cooperative Extension, Camp Calvary, the Interfaith Food Shuttle Langley Garden, Durham Congregations in Action, Dress for Success, Refiner’s Fire Literacy Camp and El-Futuro.

Students take notes and discuss workforce competencies like oral and written communication and ethics

Students take notes and discuss workforce competencies like oral and written communication and ethics

Summer Career Academy is a paid six-week opportunity in which older students, juniors and seniors, learn to work by attending M & F Corporate Center daily in professional attire and on time. Hours run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and curriculum includes learning and understanding the importance of workforce competencies like leadership, creativity and social responsibility. Headed by Adam Barnard, a recent Masters graduate from Duke and last summer’s PYO SCA intern, students also participate in a host of activities that teach other soft skills like teamwork, celebrating diversity and understanding workplace professionalism. Sessions also include learning about the importance of decision making, such as issues concerning drugs, sex and other teen risk factors from the folks at Let’s Talk Durham and performing public service through volunteering each Thursday at either Crayons to Calculators, the Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store, Threshold Clubhouse and Habitat for Humanity to name a few.

This summer also has seen the inaugural of Camp Connect, PYO’s answer to preventing the “summer slide” or loss of academic skills in our students while school is out. Headed by academic coordinator Dosali Reed-Bandele, students in Camp Connect have been brushing up on academics like math but also read and discuss books together, learn about healthy eating habits and food insecurity and the importance of healthy self-esteem.

Latino Community Credit Union Establishes Accounts for PYO Students

Tamara L. finishes up paperwork that grants her and other PYO students with their own checking and savings accounts

Tamara L. finishes up paperwork that grants her and other PYO students with their own checking and savings accounts

Several months ago PYO and our financial literacy partners, EVOLVE Mentoring, came up with the idea of placing students’ work earnings in their own hands by providing them with access to banking. Typically, our students from economically distressed areas are used to using other, more expensive means for banking such as check cashing establishments and pawn shops which can eat into their hard earned funds. Following a West Coast model that teaches school-aged children financial literacy by placing them in charge of their own money, PYO has partnered with the Latino Community Credit Union in providing students with checking and savings accounts.

In a venture that may be the first of its kind on the East Coast, LCCU is donating $175 to student savings accounts that hold at least $325 by May 2016. Students alone have access to their accounts but PYO and LCCU are able to monitor savings for the possible match but students decided on what portion of their pay they would like to save with a suggestion of 10-20 percent. On average students decided to save about 40 percent of their pay.

In addition to promoting successful financial literacy, this program teaches students the importance of sticking to budgets and saving for rainy days while empowering them financially. Research has shown that students who go to college with at least $500 in a savings account are 4-5 times MORE LIKELY to graduate.

Recapping the Valle Crucis Trip Experience

By Emmanuel Johnson, PYO Student

The PYO crew enjoys a relaxing summer morning in the Great Smoky Mountains

The PYO crew enjoys a relaxing summer morning in the Great Smoky Mountains

Our trip to Valle Crucis was an experience many of my fellow students and me have never had. Although I have been to the mountains before, I have never had the chance to stay for a weekend like this.

When we were getting ready to leave Durham, we found out we were not going to be allowed to keep our phones.

We weren’t really prepared for it.

But once we reached our destination, a cozy retreat on the side of the mountain with a nice view of green valleys around us, it didn’t matter as much. Being phoneless eventually paid off. After we arrived and settled in that first day, we all came together and enjoyed a southern style dinner, prepared by a staff with great hospitality. They maintained that hospitality throughout the whole weekend. They were always nice to us.

The second day was the most strenuous both mentally and physically. After breakfast, we broke up into groups and had discussion sessions with various pressing topics like gender, race, and resilience. The discussions were interesting and engaging for both students and staff alike. After the sessions, we loaded up the vans and headed down the road to a white water rafting site on the Watauga River, just across the North Carolina and Tennessee border. At first some students were hesitant about getting on rafts but after some prodding from Ms. Susan and Ms. Julie all students were aboard a raft at the top of the river. I have to admit it was a little scary at times, even though I’ve been rafting before, but at the end everyone couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was.

The next day we got together after breakfast and students discussed what things we like, dislike or feel needs to be changed about PYO. The only unfortunate part of our trip was that we found out that Ms. Susan was retiring. We presented her with a gift and a few students made remarks about what Ms. Susan meant to them over the years. After everyone had said goodbyes, we took a hike up to a beautiful waterfall. Some people took pictures while others climbed the rocks. Everyone just took in all the scenery. It definitely was a relaxing and memorable moment.

We finally got our phones back the last day and I kind of wish we hadn’t. Still by the time we got back everybody was worn out. The weekend was full of good fun, food, fellowship and a lack of sleep that most people made up for on the way back home.

Everyone had an enjoyable weekend. It was simply a nice time that we’ll always remember.

Check out our Facebook for more Valle Crucis pictures.

Susan McCraw Begins a New Chapter

After almost a decade with Partners for Youth and now PYO, Susan is beginning a new chapter in her life but says she will not be a stranger

After almost a decade with Partners for Youth and now PYO, Susan is beginning a new chapter in her life but says she will not be a stranger

As our PYO year ends and a new one begins, we say good-bye to Susan “Ms. Susan” McCraw who has made the tough decision to retire.

Susan began working with Partners for Youth in 2006 and has been a mainstay in the Durham community ever since. She says that it was the people, students and staff that kept her here for so long.

“I felt like I was making a contribution… the longevity [of the program] allowed really trusting relationships,” she said.

Susan is not sure what the next chapter has in store just yet but is excited for the future and hopes that it will be something that allows her to contribute in a meaningful way.

“I enjoyed myself at PYO very much, now let someone else have their turn,” Susan said. “I’m sure our paths will cross again.”

Susan has left fingerprints and a positive influence on the lives of countless kids in Durham. We will miss Susan and are greatly appreciative of all of her hard work over the years.

July Mentoring Highlight

Chamiya E. wants to be a restaurateur when she's older and has been learning the trade from her mentor and the owner of Parker & Otis restaurant Jennings B

Chamiya E. wants to be a restaurateur when she’s older and has been learning the trade from her mentor and the owner of Parker & Otis restaurant Jennings B

Mentors can have positive effects on students in various ways. Chamiya E. shared how her mentor, Jennings B., has been having a positive effect on her life.

Chamiya is a senior who has been working with her mentor at Parker and Otis at 112 S. Duke St. for a couple of months now. While at Parker and Otis Chamiya assists with running orders and clearing tables while learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business. Chamiya said she enjoys expressing herself through cooking and communicating with others.

“The toughest thing is the patience you have to have and being nice to the customers,” she said. “Even if you don’t know them, talk to them like you do and have a good relationship.”

This is her first time working in a restaurant but after working with Jennings at Parker and Otis she is confident that this is what she wants to do in the future.

A very special thank you also goes out to everyone that has provided food or supplies for our summer training activities — this would not be possible without you!!

Sincerely,
Carlton Koonce
Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO)

This newsletter was created by Alexus Monds and Emmanuel Johnson, PYO summer interns.