Looking good in the working world

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Roy Vierra picks out T-shirts at J.C. Penny on Friday morning.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Roy Vierra picks out T-shirts at J.C. Penny on Friday morning.

Kirsten Chandler and Rachael Irwin were anxious to shop. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. in South Carson City had opened early for them, and in they went armed with $200 apiece to spend from JOIN, the youth arm of Nevada Job Connect Center.

They had shirts, pants, shoes and more to find.

"I want some MUDD shoes," said Kirsten. "It's a good style."

But they were over in the men's section with Roy Vierra as the 18-year-old finished up looking at T-shirts.

Helping to shop on Friday was Cherie Halverson, assistant transition-employment specialist, at Carson High School.

After a little prodding from the girls, Halverson allowed them to go off on their own. They went off into the women's section - Kirsten, 18, discovering a brown pantsuit she liked and looking for tops with pink in them, and Rachel, 21, falling for a pair of jeans.

The 11 special-education teenagers are in Carson High's work program and have a variety of jobs that entail several hours each week. They load up in vans for part of their day and are taken to their jobs.

Kirsten works at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Rachel at Albertsons. Jenessa Krodel, 20, works at Evergreen residential center. Students like Roy; Emeleigh Archer, 18; and Jackie Schmerber, 16, work in the lunchroom at the high school, cleaning tables and restocking soda machines.

JOIN, or Job Opportunities in Nevada, provides training, employment-support services and GED opportunities for youth. JOIN has worked closely with the CHS group over the years, sometimes paying the stipend for their work hours and other times, like this year, giving them money for clothes.

"(We're doing this) to help them be presentable at their place of employment," said Tamara Pierce, JOIN career consultant.

Students in the school's work program are paid $2 an hour. They fill out their own time cards then go to the bank at the school to deposit their paychecks when they come through.

Carol Ruff, who oversees the program, wanted her students to make good clothing choices.

"I'm trying with most of them at least to find one work-appropriate outfit, and the rest, of course, needs to be school appropriate," she said.

In the shoe department, Jackie Schmerber, 16, was looking for a soft sandal in a neutral shade. The problem was that she liked most of the ones she tried on.

Other items she had already picked out included white pants, blue jeans and a light-green formal work shirt.

She finally decided on a brown pair of sandals and moved on with aide Christine Winder, a speech pathologist, to a different department.

Many of the students in the work program start off in the school cafeteria, like Jackie, before being promoted to off-campus sites.

"Jackie's a good worker," Winder said.

Almost ready for check-out, Emeleigh had exceeded her $200 limit and had to take out a pair of jeans and a top, if she wanted to find a pair of shoes. But shoes were really important, she insisted, and let the other items go.

"This is cool," she said of the shopping experience. "It gives me a chance to get new clothes."

• Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.


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