ABRAM-VILLAGE – Nov. 2, 2015 – The extra efforts that were invested in restructuring the Youth Services Co-op last summer have really paid off, even though implementation of the changes started a bit late, says Stéphane Blanchard, the youth development officer with RDÉE Prince Edward Island who supervised the project.
It was only in mid-June that organizers got to meet with a representative of La Fabrique entrepreneuriale, a Quebec organization that oversees about 150 such youth co-ops. He shared with the PEI project hosts (RDÉE PEI and the Conseil de développement coopératif de l’Î.-P.-É.) the model used in Quebec to establish and manage these odd-job services co-ops.
Right away, the Island hosts began recruiting young co-operator-workers as well as partner organizations and sponsors. In no time at all, The Hard Workers Youth Services Co-op had been established. Its two branches were located in Charlottetown and Abram-Village. They youth received training in co-op management, they elected an executive and set up subcommittees, they negotiated the free use of the trades workshop at their respective French school, they hired coordinators and they began promoting their services.
Rather than wait for people to call them (as they had a tendency to do in the past), the youth and their coordinators went knocking on doors to offer their services directly to potential clients.
Then the contracts started coming in; businesses, organizations and individuals began asking the youth to do all kinds of odd jobs, such as mowing their lawns, building shelves and dog houses, gardening and evening cleaning rabbit cages!
The youth from both regions got down to work, earning combined wages of $2,628. “This amount is greater than the combined salaries earned by the co-op youth in the three prior summers,” said Blanchard. “We are therefore very proud of the eight devoted youngsters who stayed with the co-op for the entire summer. They did awesome work.”
When the youth didn’t have contracts to fulfill, they gathered at their workshop to do their bookkeeping and management tasks, to attend committee meetings or to complete a special project – the construction of small picnic tables for the Island’s six francophone preschool centers. Funding from the Réseau Santé en français Î.-P.-É. enabled them to carry our this project, entitled Gardens for the Future.
Also, at the start of the summer, the co-op had received a much-appreciated donation of $1,778.12 from The Co-operators to help with its restructuring.
Blanchard said he is extremely pleased with what was accomplished in this first year of transformation. He expects that the Island co-op will affiliate itself with New Brunswick’s network of youth services co-op (which itself is part of the Quebec network). So early next June, the Island coordinators will participate in four days of training given by the network, just in time to get the Island co-op up and running for the season.
“Last summer, we began a bit late so we had a lot of catching up to do at the start of the season,” says the youth officer. “But next year, we’ll be better prepared earlier, so we anticipate our results should show marked improvements.”
CUTLINE: Céline Arsenault, vice-president of The Hard Workers Youth Services Co-op, and treasurer Morgan Arsenault did a variety of different jobs throughout the summer of 2015. Their co-op continues to transform itself and keeps become more and more successful thanks to the devotion of its young members.
For more details:
Youth development officer
RDÉE Prince Edward Island
902-370-7333, Ext. 402