WOW!! Aspire of WNY Honors 2024 World of Work (WOW) Program Graduates!

Celebrating new skills and endless possibilities, high school students supported by Aspire of WNY who are enrolled in the World of Work (WOW) program gathered at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility on the morning of June 6th to celebrate their graduation.

The WOW program aims to equip participants with valuable work skills, boost their confidence, and develop their social skills. It offers participants a unique opportunity to contribute to the community and local workforce, providing them with a solid foundation for their future.

The WOW program collaborates closely with participants’ school districts and local business partners. Aspire of WNY seeks to form partnerships with local businesses, building mutually beneficial relationships where the individuals we support can gain employment or internships to acquire hands-on experience. Some of the participating businesses this year included Wegmans, Tops Friendly Markets, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Joann Fabrics, Paula’s Donuts, and the Hawthorn Hotel.

The graduation ceremony featured light snacks and refreshments for all attendees. WOW program participants and their families and supporters were all seated at round tables as each participant was called up on stage to be recognized. Once on stage, they each gave a dedication speech about their experience with the WOW program before accepting their diploma.

“During the WOW program, I learned to open up, talk, and ask for help or questions. I’m not shy anymore,” says Cody Sokol, a participant in the WOW program, who interned at Wegmans and gained experience in a wide variety of departments, including the sub shop, the cheese department, the market cafe, and the host program. Cody explained that to him, the WOW program means “pride.”

“Our World of Work Program profoundly impacts the students who attend, equipping them with the skills, experience, and confidence needed to thrive in the workforce and lead fulfilling, independent lives. I attended this year’s graduation and was amazed by the students’ confidence and vibrant personalities. Their future opportunities are endless,” explains Christine Lalka, Vice President of Community and Independent Living Supports (CILS) at Aspire of WNY.

Aspire of WNY would like to thank all the participating school districts, local employers, and Aspire of WNY employees and transition associates for their committed support, which has allowed the WOW program to come to life and be a success for the individuals we support at our agency.

Programs like World of Work (WOW) are crucial to Aspire of WNY’s mission of helping individuals realize their full potential and live as independently as possible. By connecting them with resources and opportunities, these programs help participants build the skills and confidence needed to pursue their goals and aspirations within the local community!