Bay Veterans Foundation and Bay City Eastern Alternative High School are working together on a program that combines mentorship, skilled trades, and life skills. It teaches students about basic woodworking and career exploration, but the benefits go well beyond that.
“There’s over 8,000 veterans in Bay County, 600 of whom are women,” President of Bay Veterans Foundation Keith Markstrom said.
“There’s nothing else like this around,” Ryan Boon, Director of Alternative Education at Bay City Public Schools said.
Today was the first day students worked in the shop with tools following several weeks of classroom education at the foundation.
“Being around these guys with their life experiences and everything is so valuable to their futures,” Boon said.
The pairing of veterans with students presents a unique relationship. Throughout the semester, the students will work on projects for the community, including making benches and dog houses for the Humane Society, and leaders point out the mental wellness aspect of the work.
“As soon as your hands get busy, your mind gets going in the right direction. I just think everybody’s going to open up a lot,” Boon said. The students are already seeing the benefit of the program.
“It provides a lot of opportunity for the students to learn more about trades and day to day skills they can use, and it provides opportunities for the veterans to work and get more experience with the students and such,” student Mackenzie Webb said.
“I just like how they have respect for everybody, and they get excited to see us and I get excited to see them, too,” student Devin McPhee said.
By: Sheryl Coonan | abc12.com