By Tim Ruhnke, Journal Editor
The Prescott Journal, December 17, 2003
PRESCOTT The second edition of Prescott Blossoms is coming to an end, but its legacy will live on for years to come.
Six of the program's seven graduates Adam Cunning, Kylie Daub, Anthony Foreman, Lorilee Harper, Peter Higginson, Ken Robinson and Josh Rutter received their certificates Friday morning in the community room at O'Reilly's Your Independent Grocer. After half a year that saw the Blossom team do everything from working at the Shakespeare festival and the new skateboard park to creating park areas on the Daniels' Hotel lot and in front of the fire hall, it is time for graduates to put that experience and new skills to work.
As was the case with the first program in 2002, Prescott Blossoms was made possible by grants from Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). The program provides work experience and job training for young adults.
In addition to $150,000 from HRDC, the second edition of Prescott Blossoms generated an estimated $195,000 in contributions and so-called in-kind donations of goods, services and people's time. Program Co-ordinator Mike Laking said it is the highest in-kind support he has seen in a program of this type.
"You walk around this town, and you can see Prescott Blossoms everywhere," co-ordinator Mike Laking said.
Prescott Mayor Robert Lawn and three town councillors Chuck Street, Nancy Lane and Suzanne Dodge attended the graduation. "We're just delighted with the work you've been doing," said Lawn, who added Prescott Blossoms has made a real impact on the community and has "improved our spirits."
Project Supervisor Astrid Strader told the graduates they have set an example for others to follow. "I know you'll do very well," she said.
Higginson, who has experience as an audio technician, was thrilled to be able to work the sound board at the Shakespeare festival in June and July. He said team members worked together and supported one another.
"It's an amazing program," Higginson said. "We became an extended family."
An eighth member of the team, Charles Horsefield, obtained full-time employment during the program. A ninth member was unable to complete the program for health reasons; a tenth person was fired.
Each graduate received a completion bonus of $500. Harper announced at the graduation she has obtained a job at Nucomm International in Brockville and would be starting work Monday.
The Prescott Fire Department treated the Prescott Blossoms team to lunch after the graduation.
As for the future of Prescott Blossoms, Laking noted there will be a third application for government funding.
"What we've started here will continue on forever," Laking said.ram for many years to come, according to Lawn.