At Capital City Education Alliance, the power is in the paintbrush. Each brush stroke teaches valuable lessons to the students served.
“Kids either paint their school, or they refinish furniture, that’s what our older kids do, and there’s a huge sense of accomplishment when you take something ugly, broken, dirty, and turn it into something painted, pretty and saleable,” said Martha Guidry, Executive Director of Capital City Education Alliance.
Just like the organization’s current space on Arbor Street in Hartford that will now house one of CCEA’s programs. Students and volunteers helped to paint the space, brightening up a basement. The organization focuses on teaching Hartford students, ages 12 to 24, early intervention workforce readiness.
“In all fairness, it’s soft skills that we really focus on. Things like how to greet someone, how to have good eye contact, how to be on time, wear your uniform, be a team player, have a good attitude, all of those kinds of skills that you don’t necessarily learn in your home, and you don’t even necessarily learn in school. The reality is not everybody has the same type of role model,” said Guidry.
Painting and working with volunteers help teach those skills.
“The volunteers are an important part of our training with the kids because we use them as informal mentors, so the student is supposed to introduce themselves, shake hands, make eye contact, carry on a conversation with an adult they just met,” said Guidry.
For the volunteers from The Hartford who came out to spend a day in the new space, being a part of those relationships is all about being a part of the Hartford community.
“Everybody needs a chance. It’s one of these things where if we can give these kids a chance in some way, it makes a huge difference in their life. They can learn basic work skills, just how to work, to get up in the morning, be to work on time, things like that. Just that little bit will give them an edge,” said Dave Bulin, VP Enterprise Risk Management at The Hartford.
For more information or to become a volunteer, visit their website!