Investing in Youth and the Trades Journey

At CFMC, we only know “Good People Who Do Great Things.” We love hearing about people’s varied interests, passions, and backgrounds. They inspire us with their desire to help – to give back – and to “pay it forward.”

Case in point: Beth Clark, John Saunders, William Weed, and Valerie Wyzykowski, of the Valley Regional High School (VRHS) Class of 1982. They all treasure the experiences and opportunities VRHS gave them and wanted to say “Thank You” in a way that would be meaningful. The alumni decided to assist students seeking a path that might not necessarily include college and are “paying it forward” with a scholarship opportunity for those pursuing a profession in a specialized trade. Working with CFMC, they established the VRHS Trades Award Fund.

Each “Fund story” is different and personal. We asked the four ’82 graduates to share what brought them together and inspired them to establish the Valley Regional High School Trades Award Fund:

CFMC: How were you introduced to the trades? What does work in the trades mean to you?

Beth: My family has been in the construction field for several generations. I have had the opportunity to see how people in the trades “make it happen.” Over the years, I have gotten to know many tradespeople and have learned from them about work ethic, feeling as though one’s work is a self-representation, and craftsmanship quality as a priority. I value these lessons and the people who taught me.

Valerie: In my family, there has been and continues to be a generational trade of masonry. There are many towns that have stone walls, sea walls and landscaping in the shoreline towns that were built by my family. It is an inheritance of art. My grandfather would say that the trades are art and the arts are dying out. He meant that many students were not going into the trades.

William: I come from a family of tradespeople – my father was an electrician, and my brother was a carpenter who started his own construction business in Maine. I was the black sheep of the family, of sorts, and was the only one of five children that went to college. With both my father and my brother, I witnessed their daily challenge to work in the trades, especially my brother when he decided to start his own business. In order to be successful in the trades, you need a very strong work ethic. You also need to be smart and savvy in your decisions. In order to help others who choose this path, I wanted to create this award to provide assistance right out of high school. Interestingly, after a 33+ year career in D.C., I retired from my desk job and now work renovating historic homes in Washington, D.C.

CFMC: What inspired you to establish the VRHS Trades Award Fund?

Valerie: The VRHS Trades Award Fund is a stepping stone to assist those students who want to steer into the path of trades. Trades are a much-needed art or skill set. There are many successful students with either their own business or working for others in the trades. If a student has a dream to learn, build and share their trade, the VRHS Trades Award Fund wants to be able to support that goal.

Beth: I can remember that as a senior at VRHS in 1982, there was much recognition and support for those headed off to college and very little acknowledgement for those pursuing other avenues. Having needed tradespeople throughout the years, I respect how their work impacts my life. I believe that increased support and credit is due to graduates headed into the workforce or starting up their own endeavor. The VRHS Trades Award Fund can help to make this potential a reality.

William: There’s a ton of support for students in high school to assist and prepare them for college, but what are we doing for those who want to enter the trades? I wanted to create an award that supports students that follow a different path and choose to enter the trades.

John: The Fund means honoring students who worked hard to succeed in high school. VRHS is a diversified group of students who have been given a great curriculum of studies for higher education and life skills. The VRHS Trades Award Fund recognizes students who try their best for success no matter what path they take.

We salute the Class of 1982 for their dedication to our students and the future. They have a vision of a better today and brighter tomorrow at Valley Regional High School and in Middlesex County. They truly are “Good People Doing Great Things,” and we believe their tagline “Trades: Works for Success” says it all.

If you are interested in supporting this Fund, please visit the VRHS Trades Award Fund Page.

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