Pre-Employment Program Students Make Donations to Local Organizations

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TURNERS FALLS, MA – Rose Facto, senior counselor at the Wells Street Shelter in Greenfield, stood before Franklin County Technical School’s Pre-Employment Program class and thanked them for collecting and donating hundreds of pairs of socks to her program.

“We’re very grateful,” she said. “The guests will be very grateful. You guys did a good thing.”

Covering a long table in front of her lay the 406 pairs of socks the students collected over three weeks in March.

“This is the first time we’ve donated to the shelter and it’s amazing that we collected 406 pairs of socks,” said Charles Choleva, a teacher on the Pre-Employment Program. “The PEP students, as well as teachers and students from outside the program brought in socks and we thank them. We got a lot of community support.”

The PEP program is a unique, tuition based program designed for students with physical or cognitive challenges. This small, but effective program works with students on many educational and independent living skills to students ages 14 to 22. Academic skills such as reading, math and critical thinking are practiced daily. Life skills such as cooking, laundry, and shop trade skills like building maintenance, auto detailing, recycling processing, and office technology are some of the employment skills that offer students a better chance toward future independent living and job placement.  Students also learn essential values such as developing a work ethic and community service.

Facto said the homeless shelter on Wells Street can accommodate up to 22 guests, with an average stay of between three and six months. She said the sock donation “means everything to the guests.”

Choleva told his students, “We take socks and clothes for granted. You may never know these people, but you’re going to make them smile.”

Students in PEP also made a $545 donation to the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter and Adoption Center in Turners Falls. The money was raised through the sale of scarves knitted by Choleva’s mother Charlotte Choleva.

Shelter Director Leslee Colucci said the donation will be used to pay for veterinary care and to purchase supplies.

“Veterinary care is expensive,” she said. “This money will help pay to keep our dogs healthy.”

The dog shelter, which is located at 10 Sandy Lane, has been operating for six years and covers 21 communities. The facility can house 11 dogs, and there are often a number of others in foster care.

Choleva said this is the second year PEP has donated to the dog shelter.

“Last year we raised $450,” he said. “That puts us over $1,000 for two years. We made a list with the students of the things the organization has to pay for, like food, electricity, and vaccines. That money goes a long way.”

Earlier this year, PEP students dropped off 324 lbs. of can tabs that were collected over the past 10 months at Ronald McDonald House in Springfield. That amounts to roughly 390,000 can tabs that were collected and donated by students, family, friends, and teachers within the Franklin County Technical School community and its sending school districts.

 

PEP has for several years collected and donated can tabs to Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House staff will redeem the aluminum can tabs for cash. Aluminum prices vary and they redeem them as needed.

 

Choleva said community service is an important part of the Pre-Employment Program and his students feel a sense of satisfaction in helping people in need.

 

“Community service goes along with our philosophy that it doesn’t matter what your disability is, there is always someone who has it worse,” he said. “We want the students to know that they’re important to the world and the community.”

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