First Lady Shapiro visits teens working summer jobs at Reading animal shelter through L&I’s MY Work Program

First Lady Lori Shapiro joined a group of high school students today at their summer jobs caring for cats, dogs and other animals at Humane PA’s animal shelter in Reading.

The students are employed through MY Work, a summer program for high school students with disabilities created by the Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to match students with job opportunities and work experience in their local municipalities.

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“I’m thrilled to join the Department of Labor and Industry along with Goodwill Keystone Area and Humane PA for today’s visit. Through these experiences, students are gaining valuable workplace readiness skills that are going to help make our Commonwealth and our communities better off,” said First Lady Shapiro. “Josh and I are thankful for programs like this that are providing opportunities for youth across Pennsylvania to achieve big things.”

From left; First Lady Lori Shapiro; Kahlor Lau, 19, of Fleetwood; Ocean Rocco, 16, of West Reading; and Sara Dunkelberger, worksite supervisor with Humane Pennsylvania (PA), talk together at Humane PA’s animal shelter in Reading on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. The students are employed through MY Work, a summer program for high school students with disabilities created by the Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to match students with job opportunities and work experience in their local municipalities.

During the First Lady’s visit, she toured the shelter and helped students fulfill some of their daily duties. She also took part in a roundtable discussion with partners on site to highlight the importance of programs that promote community service and civic engagement for all Pennsylvanians.

Piloted in nine municipalities throughout Allegheny County in 2016, the MY Work Initiative established a collaboration between OVR, local education agencies, local government, and non-profit organizations, providing paid work experiences for 50 high school students.

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In 2021, MY Work was expanded statewide to provide high school students with disabilities with a paid work experience to help them gain essential skills that allow them to become successfully employed in a competitive integrated environment following graduation.

This summer, OVR has partnered with more than 150 municipalities and nonprofits to provide more than 700 students with paid work experiences across 47 counties. Plans are underway to expand the MY Work program to all 67 counties by 2024.

OVR covers the program’s wages for all student workers, with no cost to the municipality. Additionally, OVR has developed work readiness guidance that includes soft skills training and interview preparation to assist participants in a variety of fields, including beautification projects, children’s programming, and customer service.

MY Work also helps students build independent living skills and learning effective communication skills, managing a paycheck, and more. Worksite training and on-site supports are provided to students by Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs), which are funded by OVR.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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