Introducing CWB Champions Catherine and Taylor

In honor of GiveBIG, Day of Champions, on Tuesday, May 5 we’re sharing some stories from our own champions here at CWB.  These champions keep our boats afloat, our visitors and volunteers engaged, and our young people learning.  When you GiveBIG to CWB this Tuesday, May 5th, you’re not just supporting us, you’re supporting them.

Introducing CWB Champions Catherine Jensen and Taylor Erickson, AmeriCorps Members

Catherine and Taylor and CWB Job Skills students on a martime field trip

Catherine (far right) and Taylor (back, center) with CWB Job Skills students on a martime field trip

Taylor’s Story

“My first week or so at The Center for Wooden Boats was spent learning. Programs and procedures, codes to padlocks and most importantly employment opportunities in the maritime industry. Soon enough I was going to have to answer questions and put on presentations about our program and maritime employment.

During this time I was approached by one of our partners who introduced me to a young man. He was twenty two years old, only a few months younger than me, and interested in a maritime career. I told him about our employment training program which I was familiar with but I couldn’t quite find the right information. I left that conversation feeling unsatisfied. I went upstairs, hopped on a computer and started to sift through files. I knew that I had read something that had a list of these things but I just couldn’t locate it. Ten minutes later, I found it. A document worth its weight in gold for someone with maritime interest. I printed it out and ran downstairs. He was gone. I ran down the dock and up into the park. Nope. I started up the fire lane up to the bus stop and found our future employment skills crewmember sitting at the bus stop. I handed him the document and encouraged him to make some phone calls and ask some questions and started my walk back with a smile on my face. That was my first encounter with Joe.

Fast forward four months to the graduation day of our employment skills crewmembers. We were all sitting in a circle and giving each other a positive and a change for the session. It was Joe’s turn to give feedback to the group. He got to me and recounted his story of the first day we met. He expressed how much it meant to him that I ran him down two hundred yards from the front door just to hand him some papers.

Fast forward again to the present and Joe is now going to a local community college and has a part time job washing boats at a yacht broker that we put him in touch with shortly after the program ended. He is working towards paying off some court fees so that he can attend a job training program, potentially Job Corps or the Paul Hall Center in Piney Point, Maryland. I make sure to stay in shape just in case I need to run down any other potential students. ”

Catherine’s Story

“When I began my position as an AmeriCorps Member with The Center for Wooden Boats, I was really excited to combine my passion for working with young people with a new skill: building boats. I thought that the boat-building aspect of my work would be the most motivating and inspiring aspect of the job. While, yes, I have really enjoyed learning a new art, I have found that what makes me most excited about work every day is learning about case management and the systems of support present in the Puget Sound region.

The population of young people that come through CWB’s program are largely from under-served backgrounds. Throughout their twelve weeks in the Job Skills Training Program, they learn basic marine carpentry, the ins and outs of things like resumes and cover letters, and get to spend some quality time out on Lake Union in boats. More than that, they develop a community together and gain exposure to the wide world of maritime careers.

Throughout our fall session of Job Skills and now a month into our spring session, I have witnessed a number of our students experience difficulties that were not on my radar at 16—from getting kicked out of their parent’s homes to dealing with outstanding court fines to struggling with a school system that caters to one specific learning style. Though I have known for a while that I wanted to continue in the education field, I am grateful for the exposure to such powerful work throughout the past five months. I see the potential in myself to continue broadening my horizons and working with such a deserving population. I look forward to continue learning and seeing where this line of work takes me.”

Please join us in thanking Taylor and Catherine for their service to CWB.  It’s in their – and our job skills graduates like Joe’s – name that we ask you to donate to CWB through GiveBIG this year.  Mark your calendars and don’t forget to donate here on Tuesday, May 5!  And remember, this year your gift will be matched by an anonymous donor as well as stretched by Seattle Foundation.  

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