We are well into cohort 2 of Project Rise. The six participants have finished their workshops and training and most of them have found work placements. I am connecting with 5 of the participants to ask them what drew them to Project Rise, how they are finding the program so far and what their hopes are for the future.
Lynda who I interview first says she is really happy and glad she is taking the course. She points out that the prospect of getting into landscaping and carpentry really interests her. Earlier in the week, while sharing lunch with Lynda during a break, she talked excitedly about her love of cooking and her goal of opening a food truck. Full of energy and excited about the future, she also expresses her interest in working for Shaw doing some videotaping.
Alicia, my next interviewee, remarks that there is a lot of stuff she is learning in the program and that it can be exhausting at times. Seeing people at Newcastle Place leave in the morning to go to Project Rise, establishing a routine, she got interested and wanted to see for herself what the program is all about.
She is not sure yet what she wants to do after graduation. “I’m just trying to get myself back doing things like a regular kinda person”, she says.
Next up is Reese who found out about Project Rise at the Work BC Employment Services Centre at Brooks Landing in Nanaimo. He is still getting used to the program and hopes to be able to work and move into less supportive housing.
Joe who says that he has a lot of street smarts about him, is a resident at Newcastle Place. He says that he is slowly developing a routine, getting to the program each day with some help of his counsellors. Even though attending Project Rise makes him feel tired sometimes, he says he enjoys it. “They’re gonna try to fit me in somewhere doing something” he says. “I’ve done a couple hours at the food bank. Oh, and at Loaves and Fishes yesterday.”
Asked about his hopes for the future he says that he would like to be properly housed and work in landscaping. “Don’t put me out there for three or four hours. Gimme the seven or eight hours, you know, I’m here to try to work” he says with determination.
Sammy, my last interviewee today, is a soft spoken woman who loves animals. She readily approaches Cinnamon, our summer intern’s dog, to give her cuddles. Sammy’s outreach worker at Newcastle Place, where she lives, told her about Project Rise. “Nora thought it would be a good program for me, like it fit” she says. She went to an information session at Newcastle Place led by Stephen, the Project Rise coordinator.
Sammy’s hopes for the future are building some new skills and getting a job. She adds says she would like to work with plants, work outside. “It’s fascinating to me” she remarks. Sammy takes care of one of the garden beds at Newcastle Place. “I grow just things that you can eat”, she explains. She loves growing things from seed, watching them grow into a fruit or vegetable.
We are excited to see how the seeds our Project Rise participants are planting during the program will blossom into hopeful futures for themselves.