In her sophomore year of college, Emily Hoag (HFCS Class 2012) reached out to the JLS Foundation for assistance in securing an internship. Through an initiative called the Hometown Network, Emily was introduced to Jessica Abramovich Kuron, a 2007 graduate of HFCS, who helped her to figure out what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go for an internship. Jessica assisted Emily in writing a cover letter and resume and she landed an internship in Washington D.C. with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Through that experience she gained valuable networking skills which she uses today in her career as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in Albany. “I’ve been fortunate enough to utilize the JLS Foundation and now the Hometown Network to help build my business and to strengthen relationships,” said Hoag. Hoag’s story gives an example of the overarching mission of the JLS Foundation and the Hometown Network. “Our goal is to help students learn to network with people who can potentially help them get a job,” said Shari Hand, a 1987 graduate of Hoosick Falls Central School and a member of the JLS Board of Directors, “The professionals in the directory want to be contacted.” The Hometown Network morphed from the Hometown Mentoring Program, which was designed to assist HFCS graduates successfully complete college by pairing them with a mentor from their own hometown to help ease the academic and social transition from high school to college. “We realized that the mentoring program was too restrictive,” said John Liporace, Jr., founder of the JLS Foundation, “We are now focusing on the power of the Hometown Network, which has about 75 members. Hometown connections are powerful.” The new model, the Hometown Network, provides a way of connecting HFCS graduates with the many successful and talented people who grew up in Hoosick Falls in careers that may be compatible with their field of interest. The Network is simply an online database of professionals who all graduated from HFCS, St. Mary’s Academy or Hoosac School. The careers represented range from Advertising, to Healthcare, to Landscape Design to Technology. It gives an opportunity for people to connect with professionals from their hometown who have found success. In a recent blog post by Dr. Todd Wysocki, JLS Foundation Board member writes, “While the directory serves to provide a conduit for developing direct contacts, it also demonstrates the power of human capital, the presence of educated, successful adults who provide models of what a young adult from our community can hope to achieve. There are numerous testimonials of HFCS graduates who have utilized the Hometown Network and have found it to be beneficial to them and their career aspirations. “When I graduated from college and moved to New York City, it felt great knowing I had the support of the JLS network. Since then, I’ve turned to John and others countless times with questions about possible career moves, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without the JLS Foundation,” said Kaitlyn Pirie. Pirie graduated from HFCS in 2006 and currently is the Associate Health Editor at Family Circle. Jessica Abramovich Kuron who is the Preventing Violent Extremism Statewide Coordinator for the State of California, Governor’s Office shares how the JLS Foundation opened her eyes to possibility. “Obtaining a college degree from a four-year private institution was something I never expected of myself while growing up. In part due to the rising costs of a higher education, but also because I lacked the understanding of the vast employment opportunities that would be available to me with a college degree. The JLS Foundation motivated me to start thinking about my future through a competitive selection process at the beginning of my senior year. The JLS network became the foundation for my professional growth, and I still seek advice from this group eight years after the experience. The JLS experience is truly one that never ends, as I am still reaping the benefits of being part of this family.” Like Wysocki, Shari Hand (Class if 1987) has been instrumental in the Hometown Network and JLS Foundation and is currently working to update the Network database. “We are working to make it more comprehensive,” said Hand, “in an effort to enhance the user experience.” Hand encourages all HFCS students and alumni to utilize the network and not be hesitant, “The individuals on the network want to be contacted. They are on it because they want to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out.” To learn more about the Hometown Network, including how to become part of the Network, or to access hometown professionals eager to assist you in your career, please visit www.thejlsfoundation.org.