A social services nonprofit that serves youths launched an online shop through which the products teens make in its Employment Training Program can be purchased.
Kentwood-based Wedgwood Christian Services said Wednesday that it launched an online store that will sell some of the most popular handcrafted products made in Wedgwood’s Employment Training Program (ETP), including charcuterie boards, birdhouses, pillows, masks, candles and more.
Wedgwood’s ETP is an optional program for teens receiving treatment and care in Wedgwood’s residential program. Youths who call Wedgwood home often have experienced intense trauma such as abuse and neglect and are navigating mental, emotional and behavioral health challenges. Part of Wedgwood’s holistic treatment approach is preparing kids for life after Wedgwood, giving them the tools to gain a sense of independence. Being hired through Wedgwood’s ETP allows teens to learn life and job skills and build confidence.
“Wedgwood’s Employment Training Program works to transform the lives of at-risk youth by teaching job skills that will prepare them for their future,” said Jackie Brewster, program manager for Wedgwood’s ETP. “Through this program, we foster an environment where young people gain not only hands-on experience but confidence and independence so they can feel prepared as they enter the working world.”
To participate in Wedgwood’s ETP, teens must apply, obtain references from therapists and other staff members, and go through an interview process. They are coached along the way, building their confidence in navigating the hiring process. Wedgwood’s ETP staff guides the teens as they learn time management and punctuality, working as a team, receiving constructive criticism and leadership skills. Once hired, teens work on a variety of projects, including lawn care, car detailing, woodworking and upholstery, resulting in items that are available for community members to purchase.
All proceeds from Wedgwood’s ETP Etsy shop go back into the program, which is 100% donor-funded.
“Wedgwood’s Employment Training Program is a vital part of our person-centered approach,” said Dan Gowdy, president and CEO of Wedgwood. “Giving kids the skills and confidence they need to succeed, especially in the workforce, opens them up to a future brimming with hope and possibilities. We are excited about Wedgwood’s ETP expansion to include an Etsy shop because it is important to us that kids feel equipped to fulfill their potential, and we can teach them these skills through the various handcrafted products and services Wedgwood’s ETP provides.”
Founded 1960, Wedgwood Christian Services works with youth, adults and families dealing with issues such as sex trafficking, abuse, substance abuse, developmental delays and school expulsions.
Wedgwood offers residential care, counseling services and community programs.
We’re Open: Etsy page features products made by youth in Wedgwood training program
KENTWOOD, Mich. — You can buy products that will help hurting teens start on a new life, because they make the products themselves while learning other skills for future employment.
“We train them for basically to be successful at any job that they may have once they leave us,” says Jackie Brewster, program manager of the Employment Training Program at Wedgwood Christian Services.
The program’s Etsy page is constantly updated with new items, from bird houses to corn hole sets to beach chairs, all available for sale and hand-crafted by the program’s clients. The program teaches the skills to make the products, skills that can be used in future employment. “I have a client that was in this program about five or six years ago, and we used to make dog houses,” Brewster recalls. “This client purposely did all the shingles on these dog houses, and now he's a roofer.”
“Wedgwood’s mission is to help hurting kids,” Brewster explains. The young people in the program, ages 14 to 18, seek healing from traumas like neglect, abuse, sex trafficking, and experience in the juvenile justice system. “We really try and focus on having them learn work skills, so they can gain independence, gain confidence, to kind of set them up for success in the future.”
From the beginning, the Employment Training Program gives the clients real-life experiences found in the working world. They fill out a work application, go through a job interview, and get feedback on how they did. In the program, they learn to work with wood or cloth, and gain a sense of accomplishment through sales of the items.
“We've shown the kids the actual Etsy page, and you should see their faces,” Brewster notes.” It's just so cool to see them light up and feel that bit of success, because unfortunately, they really haven't had much success in their lives.”
The items the teens make can vary from beautiful to functional: charcuterie boards, bird houses, even a picnic table designed to allow anyone in a wheelchair to be able to sit in the middle of the table instead of banging up against the end of the table.
“We're not here to make money,” Brewster explains. “We are here to just be able to pay the kids and keep growing the program so we can hire more kids that really need these skills.”
Wedgwood Employment Training Program, 3300 36th St. SE, Grand Rapids 616-942-2110
We're Open: Wedgwood training program teaches skills for future employment
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Employment Training Program
Wedgwood’s Employment Training Program (ETP) is an optional program for teens in Wedgwood’s Residential Program to gain valuable life and job skills. Student employees work for community clients offering services such as car detailing, landscaping and lawn services, upholstery, and building wood shop products.
Teens who participate in ETP gain job experience and learn vital skills including: how to fill out a job application, interview with confidence, developing consistent work habits, teamwork, respect for authority, punctuality, professionalism, problem-solving, accepting feedback, handling responsibility, and pride in their work. From these, self-worth and confidence begin to grow as they realize they can be productive young adults in the community workforce.
Products & Services
Wedgwood’s ETP teaches youth skills through lawn care, car detailing, woodworking, upholstery services, and cleaning services.
- Lawn Care services can include: seasonal clean-up, general yard maintenance, and mulching.
- Car Detailing services include exterior wash and wax, and interior cleaning.
- Candles: Two scents, 9 oz., $25
- Throw Pillows: Available in a variety of sizes and patterns, $25+
- Handmade Woodshop Items for Sale
- Picnic table: Available in a variety of woods, 6ft – 10ft, $500 -$1000
- Corn Hole Games: $150 -$200
- Bean Bag Replacement set: $35
- Charcuterie Boards: Various sizes, $40+
- Cutting Boards: Various sizes, $25+
- Beverage Caddy: $25+
- Bird Houses: Various sizes for a variety of birds, $25+
- Flower Boxes: $25+
- Seasonal Projects
- Custom Projects upon request
Wedgwood’s ETP has items available on Etsy! Click here to visit the Etsy Shop
Fill out this Services Sign Up Form or contact Jackie at [email protected] or (616) 831-5575
View Etsy Shop
Pay for Services
Or mail checks made out to Wedgwood’s Employment Training Program to:
Wedgwood Christian Services
Attn. Employment Training Program
3300 36th Street SE, Grand Rapids MI 49512
Pay For ETP Services
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