Issaquah Community Network plans Youth Job Skills Fair

October 18, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Using a $15,000 grant from the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Issaquah Community Network is planning its first Youth Job Skills Fair on Nov. 12.

The event is aimed mostly at first-time job seekers ages 16 to 24, said network Executive Director Barbara de Michele. Participants do not need to be enrolled in Issaquah public schools.

Several break-out sessions are planned, with topics ranging from how to conduct a job search to how to write a worthy résumé and how to keep your job once you’ve landed it.

Additionally, de Michele said, participants will be asked to make some choices from a list of career possibilities. They will then have the chance to meet with professionals working in fields that interest them.

The keynote speaker for the day is Houston Kraft, a 22-year-old Northwest native who founded an organization known as RAKE (Random Acts of Kindness, Etc.) According to the Issaquah Community
Network website, Kraft worked with 10,000 students last year in schools across the country.

If you go

Youth Job Skills Fair

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 12
  • Eastridge Church, 24205 S.E. Issaquah-Fall City Road
  • July 30 to Aug. 7
  • The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required and already is under way. Space is limited to 200 people.
  • Learn more or register at

In terms of making the event happen, there was a bit of a scramble on the part of the network, said de Michele, who added the group didn’t have final confirmation of the grant award until June.

“There has been a really strong effort to get this up and running,” she said.

She further noted the grant money had to be used by the end of 2011, so local organizers had to work quickly.

“We think the day will be packed with information,” she said.

Normally, the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation works with persons with special needs. The Issaquah event is not aimed at special-needs persons, de Michele said, but they certainly are welcome.

The Issaquah Community Network has been around for about 20 years, according to de Michele, who also said its primary charge is to promote healthy youth and strong families. Part of a larger network of similar groups in locations across Washington, over the years, they have specialized in youth suicide prevention programs and dealing with issues such as bullying and sexual harassment.

Every year, the network awards its own grants to other local organizations. Last year, they passed out nine, with dollar amounts ranging from $200 to $2,000 for a total of $7,000. Primarily, the grants fund programs dealing with youth in one of four areas: substance abuse; homelessness; depression and suicide; or other adverse childhood experiences.

For 2011, de Michele said she was happy to announce the group has the same amount of money to give away. In the current economic climate, she added the network felt lucky just to sustain its efforts.

Other local groups involved in the job skills fair include the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, the Issaquah Schools Foundation and the Rotary Clubs of Issaquah and Sammamish.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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