George Wurtzel shows two male students the difference between Phillips-head and slotted head screwdrivers.

YES Program Teaches Teamwork, Practical Skill, and the Value of Mentorship

This past weekend, we hosted one of the largest Youth Employment Series programs ever, with 23 blind and visually impaired youth from throughout the Bay Area and California. It was a packed couple of days, with students arriving on Friday evening and many staying in our guest residences until the weekend wrapped up on Sunday.

Starting Friday night, the students ventured out into San Francisco to visit this year’s Rainbow World Tree of Hope at San Francisco city hall and get in the holiday spirit. Saturday was a packed day of Construction and Maintenance Basics with Enchanted Hills Construction Manager George Wurtzel, who gave students a detailed run down of household tools from wrenches to screwdrivers to hammers, and how to use them. Many of the students got the thrill of building a piece of furniture for the first time. Later, students delved into hospitality and how to organize and host an event by decorating and preparing food for our YES Mentor Appreciation Dinner, covering the basics of food safety and handling.

Students also had opportunities to practice adaptive techniques, problem-solving skills, independent travel methods, literacy and organizational and household management, with time to socialize and reflect on some of the lessons about teamwork and self sufficiency learned throughout the day.

But it’s not all business: thanks to the fun-loving spirit of Youth Services Coordinator Jamey Gump, YES is full of fun, laughter and experimentation. This weekend, that included students trying their hands at Jamey’s family’s famous fudge recipe, with Jamila mixing in the Marshmallow fluff a little too soon and Andy making it clear that he would be the one licking the spoon when the time came. The students also had a good laugh at the several helium balloons that floated just out of reach while they were trying to prepare for the Mentor Appreciation Dinner. Check out photos from the weekend in the gallery below:

George Wurtzel shows two male students the difference between Phillips-head and slotted head screwdrivers.
George Wurtzel shows two male students the difference between Phillips-head and slotted head screwdrivers.
Students sit on the floor of the Multipurpose Rooms at LightHouse while laughing and working together to fill up balloons from a helium tank.
Students sit on the floor of the Multipurpose Rooms at LightHouse while laughing and working together to fill up balloons from a helium tank.
Jamey and Jamila add Marshmallow fluff to a large vat of fudge.
Jamey and Jamila add Marshmallow fluff to a large vat of fudge.
Sarah leans against Chester laughing, while the two friends work on a meal for the Mentor Appreciation dinner.
Sarah leans against Chester laughing, while the two friends work on a meal for the Mentor Appreciation dinner.
Jamila and Andy mix the fudge in a pot while waiting for it to heat.
Jamila and Andy mix the fudge in a pot while waiting for it to heat.

Each YES workshop offers an array of vocational, transitional and enrichment curricula empowering students to strive toward future employment, post-secondary educational success and full independence. The YES Program provides direct access to successful blind and low vision mentors and incorporates structured lessons in self-advocacy, adaptive technology, career exploration and daily living.

If you know a high school or post-secondary youth who would benefit from joining our YES group, find more information on our Youth Page or contact Youth Services Coordinator Jamey Gump at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org.

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