CLEVELAND — Local non-profit 1,000 Ties is hoping to set up dozens of young men in the Cleveland area with a new gig at its fourth annual event next week.
The event is being held on Feb. 12 at Warrensville Heights High School from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Young men between the ages of 6 and 21 will go through a series of workshops to teach them life skills.
This year, the theme of the event is conflict resolution. There will also be a focus on helping some attendees land jobs.
“The shaking of the hands, the eye contact, not saying um 1,000 times — so that's definitely something I try to instill in any young person I talk to when I talk about job interviews,” said Trayvon Porter, COO of 1,000 Ties.
Porter said he learned all of those skills from his mom, Jowan Smith, who is the CEO of 1,000 Ties.
Now, they’re working together to empower other young men.
“We can’t eliminate barriers without giving them access to the tools to be successful. So the whole goal of our program is to eliminate barriers by teaching them skills by starting with something as simple as a tie,” said Smith. “So you can mess up an interview just by walking in and not shaking hands, making eye contact or knowing how to address someone appropriately.”
“We're teaching them those basic skills and then we can actually put them in front of the employers, then we can help them eliminate barriers to figure out, ‘Hey, why did you go on 20 interviews and you didn't get any callbacks? What was happening here?’”
Anyone ages 16 and up can come with their resume to be considered by several businesses, including Clean Express Auto Wash, along with other small businesses and restaurants. Workforce development organizations like Towards Employment and Youth Opportunities Unlimited will also be in attendance.
“We help them by providing job readiness training, work experience and credential training,” said Kenyari Guy, a participant recruitment specialist at Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
Guy will be recruiting for YOU’s Young Adult Employment Program. It offers free training in things like construction, IT, and state-tested nursing assistant work to 18-24-year-olds in Cuyahoga County. Students are paid for training.
Guy said they’re excited to partner with 1,000 Ties, which is working to prepare young men even before they show up with their resume.
“They're helping us, we're helping them. We’re kind of servicing that whole person so they're doing their end of things and by the time the participant comes to us, they'll have a lot of the skills that they will need already to enter into the program,” said Guy.
1,000 Ties participants will also go through a series of workshops focused on conflict resolution.
“I came up with this because I'm seeing all of the different stories about the fights and I'm getting the reports of all of the social media bullying and so many different things that are happening,” said Smith. “And we have to remember our babies have been in the house for about a year and a half, two years. So they're missing that social component. We want to be able to teach them different ways to deal with conflict before it becomes a thing. How do you eliminate the issue before it becomes to a point where you make the decision to put your hands on someone?”
Smith said even parents can take something away from the event. There will be a workshop for moms as well.
With 250 young men already registered, Smith and Porter are hoping they all walk away with not only a new job but a new direction on how they want to steer their lives.
“It's a lot of great things that they can get career-wise, lifestyle-wise. So I just hope that every boy that comes actually pays attention and soaks up as much information as you can,” said Porter.
More information about how to register for the 1,000 Ties event can be found here.
Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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