I would have preferred to tell you this personally, it’s a pity I didn’t have the chance to do so, but I want you to know how grateful we all are for your helping us with [help offered by the volunteer]. You have been an incredible volunteer, and because of your dedication and hard work [details of results of the volunteers work].
We are always searching for volunteers like you who can [list of responsibilities], and that are dedicated to helping us unite youth with their passion for trades and entrepreneurship. But what I like(d) most about you is/was [specific feedback].
Volunteers like you are important to AccesSuccess, and are the key ingredient to our success. You know how important you are “ AccesSuccess couldn’t function without its fantastic volunteers. But did you know how important AccesSuccess is, or more specifically, how important access to vocational career information is?
In fact, 46% of U.S. employers say they can’t find the skills they need, with large organizations reporting even more difficulty at 58% (ManpowerGroup, 2018). In the ManpowerGroup (2018) seventh annual talent shortage survey list of toughest to fill jobs the #1 item on their list was skilled trades, #3 was IT staff, #4 sales representatives, #5 accounting and finance staff, #6 drivers, #7 mechanics, #8 nurses, and #9 machinists/machine operators. All of these are a part of career and technical education (CTE), vocational careers that can get their start without a four year degree! AccesSuccess seeks to alleviate this problem in Omaha and surrounding Metro areas by being builders of talent for today and tomorrow (ManpowerGroup, 2018, p. 1).
CTE works for high school students, college students, adults, the economy, and business preparing individuals for high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers (ACTE, 2018b). According to the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) CTE involved high school students are more engaged in and perform better in school (2018a), with 81% of high school dropouts saying learning opportunities relevant to their future careers would have kept them in school. In addition to the potential retention opportunities, the national freshman graduation rate is 80% while that of students concentrating in CTE is 93% (ACTE, 2018b). This indicates that youth with a clear, defined goal for their future are able to see more clearly the relevance of their current academic work and apply it in real world situations.
Speaking of real world situations, our mentoring program is of particular importance to youth seeking vocational careers. According to Schmidt and Nilsson (2006)all entities linked in a person’s self-concept, including careerwill influence one another[,] if one area of identity is not fully integrated into the self-concept, other areas of identity will inevitably be affected (p. 24). Ladany, Melincoff, Constantine and Love (1997) agree with this assessment, believing that the commitment to a career choice implies self-confidence and a stable sense of the future which may be belied by more immediate concerns such as the ability to pay for postsecondary education, day-to-day survival, and meeting primary physical and emotional needs.
This is the bottleneck effect and can be found where at-risk youth must spend more psychological energy on basic survival than on self-improvement. Ladany, Melincoff, Constantine and Love (1997) and Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) both note that adolescents are prone to career myth belief, which can inhibit or negatively influence career choice processes. This is mentioned by Paa and McWhirter (2000) when they note the risks with the high percentage reported for influence in same-sex modeling. While girls in the 2009 study consistently reported positive influence from same-sex parents, friends, and teacher role models the boys were less consistent in their reporting by indicating equally high influence from their mothers.
According to Paa and McWhirter (2000) this can be explained through the abundance of career models for boys. Most career models are likely to be white men, and in general there are fewer career models for young women. Through our wonderful volunteer mentor program the youth we serve experience first-hand a diverse example of career models for both young men and women.
In fact, mentees are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, 90% more interested in becoming a mentor themselves, and 130% more likely to hold a leadership position (MENTOR, 2018). We at AccesSuccess are excited about these statistics! Our mentors help mentees in a variety of ways through
Setting career goals and discussing the steps to realize them
Using contacts to help youth network, find internships, and locate interview possibilities
Introduce youth to resources and organizations in their chosen field
Skills for seeking, interviewing for, and keeping a job
Without our volunteers this wouldn’t be possible. In his 2015 State of the Union address President Obama emphasized the importance of access to higher quality education, including redesigning high schools and partnering with colleges and employers to provide a more real-world experience to lead towards jobs and careers. By helping to stress that you don’t need a traditional four-year degree to be successful AccesSuccess and all its volunteers are a part of this educational redesign.
The number of ways volunteers like you can help the youth of Omaha are as varied as the volunteers themselves, and while these lists and statistics are impressive, what’s even more impressive are the impact stories from the youth you have helped. Take a look at the attached insert to read stories from actual AccesSuccess youth who have found help through the volunteers in our programs.
I hope you have found inspiration through your time with AccesSuccess, and through the youth you have helped and motivated. We are always in need of volunteers so we hope you continue to donate your time, and bring a friend! We love seeing our volunteers and their relationships with the youth of Omaha bloom and grow into success stories.
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