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September 18, 2018

Backstreet Books Providing Valuable Work Experience


FULTON, NY – Backstreet Books & Bistro, an initiative of Oswego County Opportunities Inc, with funding from a Community Services Block Grant, offers the Fulton area much more than a great place to buy gently used books, surf the Internet and enjoy a tasty cup of coffee.

OCO senior employment specialist Chris Cowen demonstrates computer job skills to OCO’s Job Assistance Readiness Training participant Bethany Vezzose at OCO’s Backstreet Books & Bistro.

OCO senior employment specialist Chris Cowen demonstrates computer job skills to OCO’s Job Assistance Readiness Training participant Bethany Vezzose at OCO’s Backstreet Books & Bistro.

Located at 201 Oneida St., Backstreet Books & Bistro, working in collaboration with OCO’s Job Assistance Readiness Training Program, is providing area youth with valuable work experience and local employers with well-trained workforce.

JART provides real life job experience to youth and adults, age 15 and older that are having difficulty achieving their employment and educational goals.

According to OCO senior employment specialist Chris Cowen, JART provides participants with the opportunity to learn all aspects of employment training.

“We ensure that participants in the JART program are ready to join the workforce as a productive employee,” said Cowen. “By working at Backstreet Books & Bistro they learn the art of dressing for success, the importance of being punctual, and how to develop the social skills necessary to successfully interact in a work environment.”

Nancy Hutchison, who helps manage Backstreet Books & Bistro, is impressed with the effectiveness of the JART program and enjoys working with the program’s participant.

“It’s an excellent program and I find it very rewarding to work with them and help them develop the skills necessary to join the workforce as a productive employee. We involve them in every aspect of the job, including: inventory of our books, alphabetizing and categorizing our shelves and providing our patrons with excellent customer service. They will also be on hand for one of our biggest events, our annual 50 percent off sale that will be held May 1. The event is a nice way for us to give something back to the community and thank them for the support we have received over the years. JART participants will be on hand to greet customers and assist them with their shopping needs,” said Hutchison.

Cowen said that in addition to the experience participants receive by working at Backstreet Books & Bistro, the JART program also provides them with advice on resume writing, money management skills, proper job interview skills, and proper work habits.

“We also provide assistance with job placement and retention as well as information on community services and resources that can benefit them not only their career, but their quality of life as well,” Cowen said.

One of the most important aspects of the JART program is that it provides participants with the opportunity to take the National Work Readiness exam and receive a nationally accredited certificate said that in addition to preparing participants for the exam, JART also pays for all fees associated with the exam.

“JART is a great program. By having a job coach, participants are able to learn real life lessons and work experience that can’t be taught in school. With our participants receiving National Work Readiness accreditation, we are developing a qualified workforce that provides area employers well trained, productive employees,” said Cowen.

The JART Program is open to youth and adults, ages 15 and older that live in Oswego County and are unemployed or underemployed, have barriers to employment with emphasis on those who are receiving food stamps or lack a high school diploma or GED.

The program receives funding from OTDA, CSBG and Oswego County DET

OCO’s Backstreet Books & Bistro is a Community Enterprise Project.

For more information, contact Cowen at 342-7532 or via e-mail at: [email protected]

If you are interested in volunteering at or donating gently used books to Back Street Books & Bistro, contact Hutchison at 598-5669 or via e-mail at: [email protected]

Backstreet Books & Bistro, which also serves as a meeting place for Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County, is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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