"When I'm old enough, can I work here?" It was one of the first things our neighbor Dasha said to us when she, her mom, and her little brother came into our shop in the late spring of 2014. We wouldn't open until July and we were moving furniture around, painting everything we could, and hoping we would have enough creative material donations to open (we did, and we haven't spent another minute worrying about that, because you all are so generous!)
The blinds were closed, Dasha was embarrassed because her mom knocked on the door anyhow, determined to try to engage the way she wanted. We know this because we heard them talking on the inside of the closed blinds, and we opened the door and invited them in to see what we were planning. It was this friendly curiosity that first made us feel welcome in Cleveland's St. Clair neighborhood, and it was that day that Dasha asked if she could work for us. So you can imagine we're proud & excited that the now 17 year old is our first ever teen apprentice/paid intern!!
Dasha was newly 13 when we first met her, and that summer her brother CJ and her volunteered with us everyday. It was their family that first made us feel welcome, and her grandma and mom who one day brought by 2 large trays full of vinyl letters being sold for cheap at a garage sale. "We got these for you" they said. "You clearly 'get' us" we said back, with gratitude. Dasha was helping us run a Hackathon event on the campus of Case Western Reserve University earlier this month, and we snapped a few picture and asked a few questions.
Where do you go to high school Dasha? Ohio Virtual Academy, it’s an online school, which is basically the same as a brick and mortar school. We have teachers, deadlines, projects, but what’s really nice is the flexibility of it. That’s the benefit.
Why is flexibility important to you? As I get older there are more things that I want to do with my time. Being able to have more time for religious purposes is important to me. I’m able to do more than I could if I went to a traditional school
What excites you about being an intern at Upcycle Parts Shop? The opportunity to meet more people. I think it’s an opportunity to get into things that I wouldn’t be able to usually. Problem solving comes up a lot. I like that. And I like working with people; other staff and customers. These are important for the field I want to get into. I want to be a computer support technician. When people have problems they’re not usually happy so being able to change my perspective to reflect how they’re feeling and helping them feel better and solve their problem in an efficient way is my goal.