Today we pause to reflect on the value of work and honor those who labor and produce. Here in the United States, we are singularly blessed to have the opportunity to work, to be productive, to provide for those who depend upon us. Many of us were fortunate to learn early in our lives the value of work; from helping parents around or homes, to having after-school paper routes, to summer jobs as teenagers. Productive work is part of our identity.
But what about the children who have never known what it is to work, or who have no role models of work? When kids come to a place like our City of Youth, one of the most important tasks we undertake is giving them a sense of purpose through work. Not only are the children tasked with expected family chores—helping with dinner, cleaning their personal space—but we also introduce them very early to the idea of meaningful labor which will lead to a career.
After introductory classes in a variety of different vocational programs, our children choose a career track. They may choose culinary classes, automotive body shop certification, or perhaps office or retail training. Because our programs are so highly respected, our students are guaranteed internships and eventual employment once their chosen program is complete.
Learning to work opens new doors. Mastering a craft gives a sense of competence and life direction. But most important, a marketable skill means that they can break inter-generational cycles of unemployment, poverty and dependence. One of our great joys is watching a once-impoverished orphan begin to self-provide, to chart a new direction in life, to walk into their hope-filled future.
That is a true celebration of labor.