“My name is Dylan Johns. I moved to Ajo almost ten years to escape the gang violence up north on my hometown reservation. Since I moved, my life has changed dramatically. I am now more able to stay out of trouble. I’m also a young father, with two small children and a wife to support.
Studying in the ISDA GED and Job program is helping me successfully meet my goals for both employment and for education. I know I can’t move forward financially without my high school equivalent. It was difficult to find work, as I either didn’t have the right connections or credentials. In the ISDA program, that doesn’t matter. We’re all treated equally and given the same benefits (a part –time job , free classes and testing) if we follow a few simple rules. I now have employment as a benefit of my regular attendance in the academic classes. I was placed in a job, I like at a local business with a supervisor who takes an interest in me as a person. I also just passed two of the five tests required to get my full GED credential.
None of these positive changes, working at my job, attending the helpful classes or passing exams, would have been possible without the support and resources the ISDA GED Program provides. Nonetheless, funding for our jobs programs is always difficult even while it’s a powerful way to help a disengaged youth move forward toward living a better, more satisfying and successful life. Please consider making a generous donation today to support local out of work and out of school youth through our program by clicking here. Thank you!”
ISDA GED student, Chris Garcia, masters the fine art of pouring a ceramic slip during his time at the ISDA Clay Studio as a Work Study intern. The Work Study program offers GED students a priceless opportunity to learn important vocational skills through partnerships with local businesses. Chris wrote that his time at the Clay Studio has definitely increased his self-confidence and has given him the chance to not only create but also profit from his creations, which he then sells at the Authentically Ajo Farmer’s Market.
Angel Garcia was a participant in ISDA’s GED/Work Study program and has now made the transition to working as an apprentice. During his time in the work study program, he lent an extra hand in a variety of projects throughout the town under the guidance and supervision of mentors partnered with the program. Some of these projects included general maintenance, painting, and simply lending an extra hand wherever needed. Tasks that he feels gave him a slight advantage going into the apprenticeship program.
Angel received his GED and has now been working as an apprentice with ISDA for almost two years. Not only is he grateful for the opportunity it has given him to learn important trade skills to further his career, but also the confidence it gives him to start on projects that need immediate attention.
“Everything I am learning right now is really useful and something I can use for the rest of my life. Right now it helps because now I can fix up my family’s home, especially with the bathroom and wiring. Now I see our home is practically a fire hazard. That’s why the trade I am most interested in and want to specialize in is electrical.”
One of the youngest apprentices in the program, Angel enjoys coming to work and is determined to take full advantage of the opportunities the apprenticeship program gives him.
“I always have something to do and even if I don’t know what to do, now I at least feel confident enough in myself and my skills to take the initiative. I never just stand around. I want to learn everything that I can. Eventually, I want to be able to move around and explore the U.S. and having all the trades that I learned here will help me always be able to work and support my family.”
From ‘Food Desert’ to ‘Food Oasis’ Through Gardening
On July 3, Ajo Regional Food Partnership (ARFP) and other community members who are invested in community gardening were featured in an Arizona Public Media story. Gayle and Don Weyers are shown in their Loma Bonita garden. Fran Driver, CEO of Desert Senita Community Health Center shared some of the history behind Ajo’s movement. To watch Nina Altshul (ARFP) and Don Luria (Community Foundation of Southern Arizona) talking about the abundance of produce being grown in Ajo, visit this link.
photo credit: Jewel Clearwater Fraser