• Jeremy Clark

Cool Water Painters is off to a great start in its inaugural training year!

Staff pose with two of the youth participating in Cup of Cool Water's new job training program in front of a house they finished painting July 13.

So, we are one month into our job training program and I have to say, in spite of some real challenges, the program is going extremely well! It has been such a blessing to have so many generous individuals and families allow us to paint their houses. Our trainees have been overcoming all kinds of challenges to participate in the program. Some of the challenges include, but are in no way limited to; unstable housing situations, injuries, overcoming legal issues and car trouble.

As we progress through the summer, we are constantly faced with the question of whether or not we can and should help the youth overcome each specific challenge. As an organization, one of our ever present values is empowering over enabling. We want to help the youth overcome their challenges rather than taking care of these issues for them, but at times this line can be blurry. We want our trainees to be better off than when the program started and that means we have to be brutally honest with ourselves as we evaluate the impact of this program. At times this means that a staff member calls another out for coddling or being too easy on one youth. Other times, we need to set firmer Boundaries and stick to them.

All of this is happening in the midst of forming and implementing our curriculum and of course painting houses at a professional level. I have to say that it would have been a much more difficult summer if we were running all our programs while working to start this one. It has been an unforeseen blessing to be able to dedicate this much time and attention to this new program.

The youth have formed, normed, stormed and performed. This process will continue throughout the whole summer. The storms will come and go, new issues will arise and we hope to walk alongside the youth in the midst of it all, knowing that there is no magic pill for overcoming adversity. We have an opportunity to address barriers every day as we work next to and with the youth in this program. Last week we sat down with each of our trainees and did a one month evaluation. We made action plans with each youth so that they can be better supported and we asked each person how they see themselves in this program and how they see the team. What we discovered is that each youth loves this program and is grateful to be a part of the team. Even in those times when someone is not pulling their weight, there is a strong camaraderie that keeps us moving toward a common goal, to be better off than the summer started and to get a stable job at the end of the summer.

Thank you to all of you who have supported the program financially, for those allowed us to paint your house, to those who have made lunches for our youth and for those who have been praying with us and for us in this process. It is such a blessing to see this program coming to fruition.

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