St. Joseph’s is One Sacred Community with Goodwill ProgramThursday, May 31, 2012 By By Veronique Innocent, Staff Reporter
For more than 10 years, Saint Joseph High School has shared the building with the Goodwill program on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors. Some students have concerns about that while most feel that it is a good idea that we offer them a place to continue their education. The primary program they offer is the Work-Study/GED program. Their program provides education to people who don’t have a high school diploma and who are required to be engaged in a 35 hour a week course in order to get their GEDs. GED students use the building two days a week and the other three are used for another program called WEP (Work Experience Program). Along with these two programs, there is another one called Orientation and Assessment Component that receives between 80-90 clients bi-weekly. In addition to all of that, there is a smaller program called Project Possibilities that works with young autistic adults to help them develop their skills. As we have Mr. Contreras downstairs who is doing a wonderful job by welcoming people, they also have security upstairs. Goodwill provides their own security to make sure that their students are behaving in a respectful manner. They hired three security officers, two of whom are on site Monday through Thursday when classes are held and one for Friday to monitor the Orientation and Assessment program. These adults are not allowed to either go up or come down using the stairs because they have a sensor/alarm between the 7th and 8th floors and if someone passes the alarm, the security guard will know that something is wrong. They are formally allowed to use elevators all along their journeys here at 80 Willoughby St. As the policy of SJHS says, students must not ride the elevators without adult supervision. Sometimes it happens that we ride it with the adult students but with a teacher’s supervision. Even seniors who have privileges to ride the elevators by themselves are not supposed to ride with these adults if another adult in our community is not riding too. Still, senior Keisha Toussaint pointed out her concerns with the elevators. “It limits the amount of students to be a part of the St Joseph family. Sometimes the people from the GED program ride the elevator which makes us late to class,” she said. Another issue that concerns students is the smell of cigarettes that some of these adults leave outside the building which makes a bad impression of St. Joseph. Tasha Joachim, a senior, said, “Many of them smell like cigarettes and I hate the smell of cigarettes.” Students in the programs are told not to smoke in front of the building, mentioned S. Joan. Even though sharing the building presents a challenge for us as students, we have to recognize that they are a part of our mission: One Sacred Community. We are united in the sense that they are about education and we are about education. We should cooperate because we are looking for the same thing: a high school diploma to help us build a better future. Cynthia Carrasquillo, the director of the Goodwill program, mentioned. “St. Joseph’s staff is diligent about keeping students separated from our clients and I understand the rationale behind that; I think it is a good policy since [students] are minors and Goodwill serves adult clients,” said Ms. Carrasquillo. Their rental of the top floors also keeps us very balanced in our finances. They actually pay for the space they occupy and everything is included. It keeps our tuition affordable. “Renting building space allows SJHS to provide tuition subsidy to all its parents,” said S. Joan. Sometimes there are reasons for people taking GED classes, and we are not here to judge them but to help them. We need to encourage them to keep going because, as we all know, having a high school diploma in America is important to create a better future. Stephanie Octavius sees it as a push moving forward in life, “I am glad that they are pushing themselves to have a better future,” she said.