SWBOCES 'ambassador' praised for support, guidance of youth

 screen grab of Mike Jones commendation letterClick image to view letter

Mike Jones is a familiar face to anyone who visits the Center for Career Services campus in Valhalla.

As a Security Aide stationed at the main entrance, he greets faculty, staff, students and visitors with an official and authoritative demeanor that belies his friendly nature and sense of fairness and good will. Spend any time with Mr. Jones, and the latter traits quickly become apparent.

That's why it's little surprise that the City of White Plains Youth Bureau has formally praised his "outstanding support and guidance" offered to the young people served by the Westchester Development Academy for Youth. Program Director. Hilary Blackman penned a letter of commendation extolling Mr. Jones's partnership.

"I feel strongly that at this particular point in U.S. history, while in the midst of a pandemic, we must recognize the invaluable service and work of partnering staff and stakeholders," Ms. Blackman writes. "We are grateful to Mr. Jones for his dedication, coaching and mentorship of many young men that may lack a Father figure in their lives. This has been one of the most important roles that Mr. Jones has played in helping my youth progress. SWBOCES is essential to offering our at-risk youth opportunities to connect with growing trades, which ultimately lead them to financial empowerment with certificate training as the open door and path to success."

When WDAY program participants visit the campus, Mr. Jones said he is often tasked with guiding them to their destination. Frequently he has the opportunity to provide information and insights into the workforce development programs for high school students and adults that SWBOCES offers at the campus.

While he'd prefer not to be singled out, Mr. Jones said he considers himself an ambassador for SWBOCES programs. He said he tries to connect with them and convey that SWBOCES is about the students and not the other way around.

“People need hope, caring, a kind word that gives them faith and hope in the future,” Mr. Jones said. “When I speak about SWBOCES, I look at myself as representing the organization. I look at myself as representing what we’re supposed to believe in. If they’re coming here, I want them to know it’s going to be a good experience.”

The letter of commendation was prompted specifically by Mr. Jones's effort to quickly obtain essential paperwork for students enrolled in the WDAY program.

“Mike Jones is always there for us and is willing to go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service for our students, districts and center," said Dahlia Jackson, SWBOCES' Director of Career Services.