Auberle Employment Institute helps at-risk youths build foundations for life
Standing on a muddy, snow-covered service road in Collier that leads into the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden near Oakdale, Lorenzo Steadman said he enjoys getting outdoors and working.
“I like working with my hands,” said Steadman, 21, of the North Side. “I like to move around.”
Steadman and William Mitchell, 20, of the Hill District helped cut a path for a 10-foot-wide, two-mile trail for hiking and cross-country skiing at the garden, which is being developed on 460 acres of land, much of which was mined.
Their work is part of a McKeesport-based nonprofit's year-old Employment Institute, which partners with private companies to provide at-risk youth with job skills.
Auberle , a 61-year-old Catholic charity, created the institute about a year ago by pulling together several existing job-training programs. Those prepare Auberle's clients for jobs in areas such as landscaping, construction, food handling, computer graphics and design, and commercial driving.
Auberle also is starting new training programs under the institute's umbrella, said Rodney Prystash, Auberle's director of facilities and operations.
“We've been laying the foundation for the past few years,” he said.
The institute's age range for clients and its service area remain fluid because Auberle administrators want to help anyone who needs it, Prystash said.
Some clients are the teens and young adults who receive counseling and shelter at Auberle. Some find the training on their own.
“If a youth is interested, we're going to get him involved in the program,” Prystash said.
The employment institute will expand further in February as it teams with UPMC to provide training for hospital-related jobs, such as nursing assistants and maintenance workers.
There are 46 people enrolled in the institute.
Steadman said he was in a program run by another nonprofit to learn how to handle finances and pay bills when Prystash came in as a guest speaker. Steadman jumped at the chance to gain job skills and said he might make a career out of landscaping.
“I think I could go for it,” he said.
Mitchell said he was homeless and sought help from Auberle in July. He learned about the institute and applied for the landscaping training.
“I feel like I'm really working,” he said.
Prystash said the idea behind the programs is to teach specific job skills, such as tool safety, while teaching skills that apply to any job, such as working as a member of a team.
Besides off-site locations like the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Auberle uses its 20-acre main campus to teach clients how to landscape. They worked with a professional designer to plan and install a pond and outdoor classroom on campus.
“They have fish in it. They have aquatic plants,” Prystash said. “They really researched it.”
More recently, Auberle partnered with Massaro Properties LLC of O'Hara to offer a landscaping program in the spring and summer at properties the company owns.
“The kids are interviewed as if they're applying for a job,” Prystash said. “They do everything from grass trimming to mulching to pruning.”
Another landscape company has agreed to hire three of Auberle's landscape graduates, Prystash said.
“This is my goal,” Prystash said. “That's what it's all about.”
David Massaro said his company hopes to expand the training opportunities it offers to Auberle clients.
“This year, we're going to try to go out to the marketplace and secure some additional accounts,” he said.
Students last year improved upon the work done by contractors, Massaro said.
Another training program now offered under the institute's umbrella is a 40-hour, hazardous waste operations course taught by Carnegie-based Weavertown Environmental Group.
Dawn Fuchs, president and CEO, said she was on Auberle's board for several years, so she readily agreed when it approached her about three years ago.
Given restrictions in handling hazardous waste, the course can't provide the same on-the-job training that Massaro does, Fuchs said, but it does prepare students to work in several environment-related fields, including the expanding oil and gas industry.
Like the landscaping program, the hazardous waste course emphasizes so-called “soft skills” that are important to businesses. Those include treating others with respect, communicating well and acting responsibly, Fuchs said.
“(Students) definitely have a skill set they can take with them, whether it's at Weavertown or another business,” she said.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Churchill teens putting Irish dancing skills on world stage
- Regional winners of National History Day contest posted
- Moon assesses ways to help struggling Mooncrest
- Western Pa. nurses who served during Vietnam invited to tea in their honor
- Western Pa. school districts address e-cigarettes
- Franklin Park zoning board outlines decision on exemptions
- Variances sought in Northway mall mend