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While many may know The RE Store on Meridian Street for its salvaged building materials and curious odds and ends, the store makes up only one facet of the nonprofits’ impressive agenda. The RE Store is a program of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, which runs various programs aimed to develop a healthy, sustainable community. One of the RE Store’s newer programs is the Community Jobs Training Program, which provides internship opportunities to teach marketable job skills to the most vulnerable.

The program was started in 2013, with just one trainee, and has since grown to train about 45 individuals in several different fields. Although the organization had a volunteer program for a number of years prior, the Community Jobs Training Programs was formalized in 2013 to give participants a structured internship, free of cost. With the support of other local nonprofits like Opportunity Council, Northwest Youth Services, WorkSource, and more, nearly half of the interns are also able to be paid by affiliated partners.

The goal of the program is to build not only skills, but confidence for participants to succeed after their three- to sixmonth training program concludes. “Getting people back into the workforce gets them away from homelessness. Seventy percent of my applicants say their number-one goal is to get off of government assistance and become independent,” said Andy Eddy, volunteer and jobs training manager. Many people who take advantage of the program have been out of work for years, are returned from active military duty, recovering from an injury, or are young and entering the workforce for the first time.

Geoffrey Jones, 45, had broken his back and was hesitant to re-enter the work force. He spent about four months in the program, which “eased me back into it and gave me the confidence I needed,” he said. Better still, it gave him a job—immediately after completing the program, he was hired by the RE Store and has worked on the sales floor ever since.

While in the program, interns pick from a handful of focus areas that are designed to meet the needs of the community and create marketable resumes. Interns can decide among five different curriculums, which then dictate their everyday activities and training. The focus areas include administrative, retail, warehouse, garden, and salvage/light construction. “We had to ask ourselves, ‘What is realistic for us?’” Eddy said, about the menu of programs. In addition to considering the ability of RE Store staff to train interns, Eddy said the organization developed these tracks based on community feedback. Before deciding on the focus areas the program would offer, Eddy researched the available jobs and the skills each requires. Beyond job skills and confidence, Eddy said the program aims to instill the mission of sustainability and create a culture of reuse by giving the interns the ability to live and breathe the mission of the RE Store.

The RE Store will host its second annual Rockin’ for The RE Store fundraising event on Friday, May 18th at Boundary Bay Brewery, which will benefit the Community Jobs Training Program, among their other programs.

 

2309 Meridian St., Bellingham

360.647.5921 | re-store.org

"'Getting people back into the workforce gets them away from homelessness...' said Andy Eddy, volunteer and jobs training manager. "