This article was originally written and published by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
One of the many benefits of youth placement in least restrictive community facilities is the opportunity to receive education and vocational training in the community, sometimes under the wing of community members with lived experience. Derek Jones is a shining example of community members going above and beyond to support youth in our care.
Oakridge Community Facility provides youth with the opportunity to join the Manufacturing Academy, a 12-week pre-apprenticeship with certifications that prepare youth for entry-level positions in the manufacturing industry. Derek manages the program and provides hands-on instruction to the youth participants, but his support for the young people doesn’t end there.
“Derek is always willing to teach and help. If you don’t understand, he will meet you until you get it,” said one youth.
Derek is a mentor, confidant, and friend to every young person that crosses his path. He is passionate about not only teaching youth vocational skills but also providing a safe space where they can truly flourish and grow. He talks with youth about his experiences with life after release, fatherhood, and responsibility while encouraging them to transform their lives for the better.
“He has had a huge impact on my life because he was always willing to help me when I needed guidance or when I needed someone to talk to,” said another youth.
Derek’s instruction and impact have been felt throughout the many Manufacturing Academy cohorts of young adults who he continues to mentor even after their release from Juvenile Rehabilitation.
You can read the entire article on DYCF’s blog here.