Jeanne Sager | Democrat
THE HISTORIC BUILDING once filled with young men training to be priests is now filled with young adults training for a multitude of trades as the Delaware Valley Job Corps celebrates 30 years in Callicoon.
Job Corps celebrates 30 years
By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON The institution that breathed new life into a Sullivan County landmark is having a big birthday.
When the Franciscan friars stopped educating would-be priests in Callicoon in the ‘70s, the gothic stone structure looked like it may never see life again.
But the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center put students back into the empty St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon in 1979.
Next week, the U.S. Department of Labor will mark 30 years of educating young adults for the trades in Callicoon.
According to the June 14, 1979 issue of the Sullivan County Democrat, the first batch arrived on June 12 of that year, a crop of 58 or 59 (at press time, the Democrat didn’t have an exact count).
They’ve been showing up on Tuesdays ever since the Job Corps set-up allows students to enter into a program at any point and “graduate” at any point. Unlike a traditional college or high school, there are no semesters.
And unlike a traditional college, Job Corps has been offering a free education to the 15,000-some students who have walked through its doors in the hills above Callicoon in the past 30 years.
Part of a program started by the U.S. Congress in 1964, Delaware Valley Job Corps is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor which pay for adults age 16 through 24 to take courses at the center - everything from obtaining their GED to earning certification as an electrician.
Open to anyone (including county residents in the 16-24 age bracket), the students are nonetheless largely residents of New York City who are transported to the Catskills to learn a trade.
“It’s an opportunity for our students to get away from their natural environment, gives them an opportunity to spread their wings, to grow,” explained Deputy Center Director Darrin Raynor.
A 1994 Monticello High School grad, Raynor started his career at Job Corps as head of student activities. He left the area to work at another Job Corps center in Texas (one of 122 nationwide), but came back two years ago to join Management Training Corporation (MTC), the current company running Delaware Valley Job Corps for the Department of Labor.
For Raynor, it was easy to come back - and not just because it’s home.
At Delaware Valley Job Corps, the students are first and foremost, he said, and their successes make the job worth it.
“There may be perceptions out there about Job Corps, but in here, the perception is we treat each other like a family,” Raynor explained. “We know what we do here, we believe in what we do here.”
And what they do is turn out classes of students ready to work in the hospitality industry and office administration, students certified to operate forklifts and students who can provide medical office support.
They live on campus, get hands on work experience and then spend time out in the community putting it into action.
Community service is one of the core tenets of Job Corps, and one MTC has stressed since coming on board.
In April alone, DV Job Corps students did 600 hours of community service. Community Liaison Shawn Bailey listed volunteering at the Easter egg hunt in Callicoon and renovating the United Way in Monticello among their accomplishments in that month.
“I have students every Monday coming to my office and asking me what the community service is for the coming weekend,” Bailey noted. “They students enjoy it, they get out, they meet people, have new experiences,” Raynor added.
And it helps the community. In addition to the 150 jobs the center provides to the local community, making it one of top employers in western Sullivan County, the volunteers save community organizations countless dollars.
Put together with the success of the center (under MTC, its gone from being ranked 120th in the nation to 61st out of all Job Corps), Raynor says the relationship with the community has brought it to new heights. “Everything has just kind of fallen into place,” he noted.
Even the staggering economy has brought something pleasant to Job Corps’ 30th year.
“The students are understanding what a great opportunity it is to get a free education, to learn these skills,” Bailey noted. “The kind of education you get here is priceless.”If you’re between the ages of 16 and 24 and want in on the free programs at Job Corps, call the center at 887-5400.