Ray’s Place starts summer with big news

By: Brad Holden

What started out five years ago as the little youth program that could is taking a serious step forward this year with the help of $68,000 in Trillium funding and a recently acquired registered charity number.

The Trillium grant, which is spread out over three years, will go towards clubs and programs at the Ray’s Place study site, which operates during the school year at 172D Mill Street (the entrance is on Caroline Street West). Laurie Copeland, who chairs the Ray’s Place Board, says she hopes to run a whole fleet of clubs next year, from Toastmasters to Junior Achievement to Photography to Car Restoration to whatever else students ask for. The funds will be used to hire a part-time staff person and cover program and inititiative costs.

Meanwhile, the Ray’s Place Summer Work Program, formally known as the Rent-a-Youth program, is currently gearing up for its fifth summer. From now until September, the Ray’s Place study site will become head office for that program, which will be headed up this year by Josh Caswell (above), a recent university graduate who plans to attend teacher’s college in the fall.

Caswell has about 30 kids signed up so far and is looking for more. For the first time, this year’s application process includes an interview, so that Caswell can get to know the youth in question and have a better idea about what jobs might be suitable.

Ray’s Place has also developed an extensive site inspection process, so that Caswell can make sure that all prospective jobs provide a safe environment for the workers.

“We’re really all about the kids,” said Copeland, adding that youths will have the opportunity this summer to take part in workshops on subjects like lawn maintenance, workplace safety, and others.

Those looking to hire youths through the program are encouraged to get in touch with Caswell. The rate is $11 per hour, of which $10 goes to the youth and $1 goes to Ray’s Place administration and insurance. All manner of odd jobs can be done, and Ray’s Place holds a special place in its heart for people who are willing to mentor the youths in whatever skill is needed.

“Our ideal client is someone who wants to make a difference in kids’ lives,” said Copeland.

To that end, an announcement is coming soon on the other great initiative being offered by Ray’s Place. Within weeks, the community will learn the identity of the first recipient of the Ray’s Place four-year, $20,000 post-secondary scholarship. The organization currently has two of these scholarships lined up, and hopes to find donors for two more, so there can be a new recipient each September.

It’s hoped that Ray’s Place’s newly acquired charitable status will help towards that goal.

“In five years of operation, we’ve really evolved into an organization with one clear mandate,” said Copeland. “That’s to keep kids in school, as long as possible.”
Youths aged 13-18 looking for summer work, or local residents looking to employ Ray’s Place youths for odd jobs can call 705-466-3663, drop into the Ray’s Place office or visit with Caswell at the Ray’s Place booth at the Farmers’ Market.



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