Weekly Feature

2017-04-19 / Front Page

BEAT program to teach skilled trades to teens


Christine Hausrath, president of Hausrath’s Landscape Maintenance Inc., is pictured with her son, Steven. Hausrath has founded an after-school program for Ken-Ton teens that will focus on skilled trades. Christine Hausrath, president of Hausrath’s Landscape Maintenance Inc., is pictured with her son, Steven. Hausrath has founded an after-school program for Ken-Ton teens that will focus on skilled trades. Christine Hausrath is building bridges for teenagers who might not choose the college path after their high school graduation.

“I think we’re losing a lot of teens out of school; they’re quitting,” she said, adding that there’s another direction those who are struggling can take.

Through an after-school program, Building, Education and Trades Inc. — also called BEAT — students will have the opportunity to learn about different skilled trades, such as woodworking, electric and plumbing.

Hausrath has been kicking around this idea for about five years, recognizing the needed support system for teens and the importance of sustaining trades that help build infrastructure.

The program is becoming an exciting reality for her, as it is expected to get started this fall.

At the April 10 Tonawanda Town Board meeting, the board approved a space, free of charge, for the program at the Sheridan Parkside Building, 169 Sheridan Parkside Drive.

Hausrath is glad that the board stands behind the program, which is intended for Ken-Ton teens ages 13 to 18. She noted that the Ken-Ton dropout rate is about 1 percent.

The program is currently planned to be up and running between 4 and 7:30 p.m. three days a week. BEAT students will be able to use their hands to build and work on projects in trade fields that are prominent in the Town of Tonawanda.

Hausrath, who now lives in Amherst, says she grew up in Old Town and was a high school dropout herself.

Along with her husband, Hausrath built their companies from the ground up and she said she believes that people need to know the real stories.

She is now the owner of Hausrath’s Landscape Maintenance Inc., Bison Turf Equipment and Segways of Western New York. She also founded Annie’s Place, a teen center within the Northtowns Boys and Girls Club.

“These kids that are falling through the cracks, that are ending up on welfare, ending up on the streets, ending up doing drugs or that sort of thing, they need to see another avenue and they need to be able to try it.”

Her goal for BEAT is for students to dabble and try out the different skilled trades and to see that they accomplish these tasks.

Students who participate in the program might learn how to re-purpose an item, why they have to use measurements or why organization is important.

“It will also give them the drive to stay in school. We want to see them walk across that stage out of high school.”

According to Hausrath, students aren’t going to be graded but will work with mentors, participate in hands-on tasks and listen to discussions.

The program aims to show the students that someone cares and that they can pick something that they’re comfortable with.

“We want them to buy into this program by staying in school,” she said.

This way, students can return to their high school classrooms and understand why certain lessons are needed and how they can apply it in a job setting.

There will be a director, people coming in from the field as mentors, in addition to teachers who will donate their time. And, students will have a chance to see what goes on in the real business world and what is expected of them.

Hausrath believes the program will benefit the community in many ways by helping keep kids off the street and by providing them with a positive direction.

She says there are already businesses on board ready to support the program, adding that BEAT plans on creating employer-to-employee relationships.

Through training the students, business members will get to know students in a professional and personal way and may even decide to hire them in the future.

Hausrath hopes the program will make the participants “good community people.”

“That will be able to buy a house here, that’ll be able to sustain a family, and be proud of their area.”

Hausrath not only has a passion for giving back but also is confident that the program will grow by leaps and bounds.

“I’d love to see it grow into a building by itself where we could take teens from other areas. I just feel it in my heart that’s going to happen.”

Community members, students or businesses who are interested in being part of the program can contact 833-7392 or building educationandtrades@gmail.com.

email: awalters@beenews.com

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