By Hannah Kosloski
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch staff are dedicated to providing the best care and opportunities for kids at risk, and it doesn't stop at the Ranch's residential treatment centers.
This past year, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Stores partnered with two different organizations, Bismarck Legacy High School, and CREATE (Career Readiness Education and Training Experience) to help teens and young adults learn important job skills. Participants in both programs worked directly with thrift store staff, learning skills they can apply in their everyday lives.
In Fargo, warehouse manager, Dallas Elhard, worked with CREATE to literally "create" an amazing job training experience. CREATE, based out of the Fargo Vocational Training Center, works with young adults, ages 18-28, to create job training internships. The internship includes a 40-hour job training workshop and 120 hours of job experience with companies like the Ranch in the Fargo-Moorhead area. More than just a labor experience, CREATE participants meet weekly with a job coach who helps them reflect, grow, and learn as they go through the program.
Andrew came to the thrift store's Fargo warehouse through CREATE. During his internship, Andrew met consistently with a job coach, learned the basics of an interactive program, and helped build and fix furniture. After a successful four months, the Ranch hired Andrew as an official part of the team Both Andrew and Dallas agree that it was "an overall positive experience."
"It's a good, comfortable, understanding environment with good people," Andrew said. "I recommend [CREATE] to anyone who is struggling to find a job."
Across the state, Jeremy Lindell, Bismarck Thrift Store manager, worked with Legacy High School to create and implement a "real-life job experience." Like the CREATE program, students work directly with thrift store staff to gain job training skills.
Students begin the program by enrolling in a class that promotes student learning and experiencing real-life situations. Laura Mildenberger, the program supervisor at Legacy High School, selects students to work at the Bismarck Thrift Store 2-3 hours a week. Students begin by cleaning, mopping, and removing garbage. As they grow in their confidence and skills, they learn the basics of cashiering and stocking shelves.
This partnership has been in the works for almost two years, and Jeremy said it has been very successful.
"The most enjoyable part [of the program] is working and seeing the kids every day. Their growth at the end [of the semester] is awesome. It's just a lot of fun," Jeremy said.
Both partnerships open doors of learning and experience that fulfill the purpose and mission of the Ranch Thrift Stores—to be positive, productive members of the community. In addition, thrift store staff provide on-the-job training through more than 15 job programs and employ Ranch residents who are on track to living independently when they leave our care. At the thrift stores, they gain valuable job experience and learn about accountability, teamwork, responsibility, and dependability.
The learning culture of the Ranch means that employees find opportunities to provide and receive growth and learning wherever they can—for their own personal growth, kids in residential care, the kids' families, and the many thrift store employees who come to the Ranch through job program. Together, we promote health, healing, and opportunity for all people in our communities.