United Community Services for Working Families, an agency associated with the Reading-Berks Central Labor Council, recently participated in the United Way Day of Caring in Reading when its cohort of YouthBuild students volunteered to clean up Aulenbach’s Cemetery. Eight YouthBuild students along with the UCSWF President Ashley Chambers and program instructors spent the day cleaning up fallen tree branches, mowing the grass and power-washing the buildings.
YouthBuild is an AmeriCorp program that works with young people from low-income communities, offering job training in the construction trades, counseling and leadership education and assists students with getting their GED or high school diploma. United Community Services has run the YouthBuild program in Reading for nearly a decade. In Reading, United Community Services works with the building trades in southeast Pennsylvania to offer the National Building Trades Unions’ pre-apprenticeship program multi-craft core curriculum, MC3. Students who complete the program often enter apprenticeship programs in the building trades.
A YouthBuild student, Michael, 17, was the first to arrive at the Day of Caring project. He hopes to go into the construction trades after finishing the program, but in the meantime, he’s learning the science and math skills he’ll need from his YouthBuild instructors. In addition to the Day of Caring project at Aulenbach Cemetery, the YouthBuild students are also spending time renovating a local housing authority building, bridging both community service and hands-on learning.
Community services is a founding principle of the labor movement. Taking care of our neighbors and neighborhoods is key to advancing the social condition and well-being of our country. United Community Services for Working Families is one of two independent, labor supported community services agencies in Pennsylvania; labor liaisons are also based at local United Ways across the Commonwealth. Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder recently spoke at the Day of Caring kick-off in New Castle where he said, “The United Way and organized labor work together in most areas is really a testament that we understand we are our brother’s keepers. In our world, that labor agreement and contract, if you will, it doesn’t see your race, or your religion, or your ethnicity, or your sexual orientation. It only knows it is going to treat you just like any other worker”.
For more information about the YouthBuild program in Reading click here.