Gap Program Provides Life and Work Skills Training
Holly Collingwood | Winter Park Times
Per its mission, Snow Mountain Ranch is committed to offering programs for its employees that serve their spirit, mind and body. Its new gap program, EMPOWER, is specifically designed for youth ages 18-24 who are not in school or employed in a full-time position.
EMPOWER hosts youth from all over the country for the three-month program. During their time at Snow Mountain Ranch, they work in either housekeeping or food service where they receive on-the-job training. They also attend classes and field trips on their days off to learn about professional skills, problem solving, workplace communications, assess personal strengths and weaknesses, deal with homesickness, and practice leadership skills. The youth who apply to the program must be referred by a case worker at a governmental agency such as YouthBuild.
“We work on basic life skills and help them see their own potential,” according to Amy Williams, the Gap Program and Partnership Supervisor for Snow Mountain Ranch. At the end of their time, they can apply to stay on at Snow Mountain Ranch for another four months if they choose. One past participant found full-time employment in the construction field and lives in Granby now.
Many of the participants come from warm climates and have never seen snow. “It is such a new experience for them, to go tubing, skiing at Winter Park, or just play in the snow,” Williams said. Currently EMPOWER participants are from California, Georgia, Texas, Missouri and Tennessee.
Torriane came from St. Louis via a YouthBuild program. “This place has been a great place to learn different perspectives and gain a sense of responsibility,” she said of her experience at Snow Mountain Ranch.
Another EMPOWER graduate, Coby, was a Title 1 Participant from Louisiana. “There were few opportunities for me at home,” he said. “Snow Mountain Ranch not only has given me a place to live and meals, it has given me a chance to learn while I earn a few bucks.”
In addition to the EMPOWER program, Snow Mountain Ranch offers two other Gap Year Programs for 18- to 24-year-olds. TREK is a faith-based program serving those who are looking for personal and spiritual growth, and EXPLORE allows employees to explore professional opportunities as well as adventurous activities in Colorado.
To apply for a YMCA of the Rockies Gap Program, please visit our employment website, www.WorkInTheRockies.org