Earning an extra dollar and getting some much-desired work experience is behind a program with The Arc Northwest Mississippi called the Summer Work Experience. The Arc Northwest Mississippi is the non-profit advocacy organization to provide opportunities and support for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
The Summer Work Experience is part of the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services-funded Pre-ETS, or Pre-Employment Transition Services, program. In Pre-ETS, participants aged 14-21 during the school year are exposed to a number of related categories, from job exploration, workplace readiness, work-based learning experience, self advocacy, and post-secondary education.
It is the work-based learning experience the participants have been doing this summer at 10 different DeSoto County locations in the Summer Work Experience.
“It helps them realize the kind of jobs that they want to have, what kind of jobs they don’t want to have, and realizes some of the interests that they may not know that they have,” said The Arc Northwest Mississippi Program Director Amanda Brown. “It’s a wide variety of different businesses and different jobs within the businesses that they let us do.”
Among the places where The Arc Northwest Mississippi has people working 1-2 hour shifts of various jobs are Holiday Inn Express, Superlo Foods, the Lost Pizza Co., SouthPoint Church, 2 Crazy Fellas, Uptown Thrift, Bare Bath Essentials, DeSoto Athletic Club (DAC), Mickey’s Popcorn, and P. Walker Travel Agency and Tours.
The jobs ranged from cleaning, stocking groceries and shelves, wrapping silverware, folding pizza boxes, and organizing clothing items, to making laundry detergent and bath bombs, putting packets together for drivers, assisting in computer entries and scanning paperwork.
Work schedules are no more than two hours in a day and for various number of days, depending on the location.
“It may be a lot of repetitive work, but there’s never any down time,” Brown said. “You’re always busy doing something here.”
The workers are paid through the Arc Northwest Mississippi monthly. “They got a check at the end of June and they will get a check at the end of July,” Brown said.
A test run of the Summer Work Experience was done with four businesses participating last summer. Brown said it went really well and led to the program expanding to 10 businesses this summer.
Find out more about The Arc Northwest Mississippi website.