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Weston co-op provides outdoor jobs in community

Teens get work experience outside mall and restaurants

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From left to right: Ellen O’Donoghue, Ocean Berens, Steven Heinrichs, Cameron Sanderson, Muriel Bittern-Houle, Anton Roulette, Cristina Chartrand, Dustin Coleman, and Whitney Anderson run the Best Weston/Brooklands Youth Co-op.

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From left to right: Ellen O’Donoghue, Ocean Berens, Steven Heinrichs, Cameron Sanderson, Muriel Bittern-Houle, Anton Roulette, Cristina Chartrand, Dustin Coleman, and Whitney Anderson run the Best Weston/Brooklands Youth Co-op. Photo Store

Instead of working at a mall or a fast food restaurant, eight kids are spending their summer doing odd jobs through the Best Weston/Brooklands Youth Co-op.

The co-op is a little house, tucked away behind lush, leafy trees in the Weston area at 1528 Roy Ave. The co-op members may meet here, but they spend a lot of their time working outdoors.

"It gives them a wide variety of experience. You don’t get to do landscaping, cleaning, and dog-walking in one summer," facilitator Steven Heinrichs, 26, said.

Heinrichs explained that the co-op is a youth educational program, recruiting kids aged 12 to 17 from around the area to do summer jobs and teach them how a business works.

"They also get to see a few aspects of business they wouldn’t normally get to see, like we have an HR committee and a marketing committee."

Sixteen-year-old Whitney Anderson lives across the street from the co-op. She saw a sign asking for workers posted on the building.

Anderson has enjoyed working at the co-op so far this summer, and that’s as far as she wants to take it before she goes back to school at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate in the fall.

"It’s better than having a full-time (job)," Anderson said. "It’s nice. We get paid in cash, so that’s really good. And it’s a good opportunity to see different jobs and how you do them. And sometimes you can decline it if you’re not comfortable with doing it."

Heinrichs and co-facilitator Ellen O’Donoghue are making it a point to have as little involvement with the co-op as possible. They want the youth to be in charge of the decision-making.

"We try to take a step back so they get to make all the decisions about what contracts they want," O’Donoghue, 19, said. "They came up with the job list on the wall," she added, gesturing to a list written on a whiteboard.

The co-op runs from July 29 to Aug. 28. With the co-op closing for the season soon, Heinrichs is contemplating ways to make it better.

"Most of the problems have been just the short time span (of the co-op)," Heinrichs said. "Everything’s been rushed and it’s been tough to set up things, so maybe we’d like an extra month.

"We gave them just three days of training just to find out what a co-op is."

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