Queens Community House programs connects youth with valuable skills this summer

Queens Community House programs connects youth with valuable skills this summer
Queens Community House is providing training programs in the food service and construction sectors through the city’s expanded Summer Youth Employment Program. (Photos courtesy of QCH)

The city’s expanded Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is benefiting teens and youth with various opportunities at Queens Community House (QCH), the Forest Hills-based social service organization.

In February, Mayor Eric Adams announced that SYEP would include a record 100,000 young people participating in the summer jobs program at multiple worksites, allowing them to explore different interests and career pathways, develop productive work habits and engage in learning experiences that strengthen their skills.

Some of the QCH SYEP worksites include Queens Connect, a youth workforce program that trains and prepares out-of-school youth for successful careers in the food service and manufacturing sector, as well as YouthBuild, a workforce program that has helped young adults obtain construction skills and attain their High School Equivalency (HSE).

Queens Connect is a collaboration among four community-based organizations, Queens Community House, Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, Ocean Bay Local Development Corporation and Sunnyside Community Services, to train and prepare young adults for success in the food sector: food service, manufacturing and retail.

“It’s incredible to see how eager and engaged the youth are with our programs for SYEP,” said Alexandria Sempter-Delves, division director of Youth Workforce of QCH. “We’ve been hearing how much the youth have been enjoying and learning, whether they are discovering new booking methods with chef instructor Rob at Queens Connect or gaining hands-on construction experience at YouthBuild.

“The past few years have been a challenging time for young people looking for opportunities to grow, so we need to reinforce the importance of helping the youth develop social, civic and leadership skills to prepare them for the future, and SYEP is a great way to do that.”

For the first time in years, QCH’s Generation Q program has taken on a cohort of SYEP participants. Generation Q is an LGBTQ+ youth program at QCH that provides a wide variety of educational and recreational opportunities, as well as social and emotional support.

“Our intention was to create an SYEP track that would be affirming for and intentionally curated for LGBTQ+ and allied youth,” Generation Q Program Director Lindsey Duel said. “We are offering four tracks: lobbying and political activism; internal programming; external content creation; and a facilitation and training track. Each of these tracks provides a glimpse into the work that we do, allowing the youth to make meaningful contributions to Generation Q, as well as provide them with meaningful and transferable skills.”

QCH was formed in 1975 as the Forest Hills Community House to help heal the wounds of a neighborhood conflict. Over four decades, QCH’s reach and breadth have grown to offer a broad network of comprehensive services at 38 sites in 15 neighborhoods around the borough to impact individuals, families and entire communities while serving more than 26,000 children, youth, adults and seniors every year.