March 14, 2023

Every Wednesday, Anders travels from NECC to his job as a shop assistant at J. White Automotive in Bellingham. During his three-hour shift, Anders helps keep things tidy in the busy autobody and restoration shop by taking out the trash and cleaning bathrooms, among other tasks. Though it may seem like menial work, Anders is learning the social and vocational skills needed for when he ages out of NECC.

“Anders’s superpower is making people smile,” said Shirley Warren, co-owner of J. White Automotive, who began employing NECC students eight years ago.

“I love to help kids reach goals and gain skills,” said Warren. “It is especially fulfilling when they can take the skills that they learn here and use them to further themselves in life.”

White, which used to neighbor NECC in Framingham, caught the attention of an NECC executive when he noticed NECC student artwork displayed in the waiting area. He shared that one of NECC’s students loved to wash cars, and that’s when Warren began working with NECC’s Vocational Program.

NECC’s Vocational Program allows students aged 14 and older to work up to four hours a week either in the community or within the school through NECC’s Career Development Center.

“Vocational training is crucial in helping students develop the skills they need to be productive members of society once they graduate from NECC,” said Director of Vocational Services Julie Weiss. “Community businesses like J. White help students like Anders focus on career goals and securing employment after NECC.”

Over the last several years, the staff at J. White have mentored NECC students and nurtured their talents. Two former NECC students continued to work at J. White after graduating. Chris went from washing to detailing cars, while Harrison went from writing thank you notes to working with accounts payable on data entry. Anders has an open offer as well.

“These NECC students are great workers and have positively contributed to our business,” said Warren. “They are valuable employees.”

This story originally appeared in the FY 2021-22 Annual Report.