More than 100 local teenagers and young adults are taking part in special programs this summer that give them the opportunity to earn a paycheck and gain valuable work skills, while also helping local businesses and organizations.
The majority of these teenagers and young adults are taking part in the Summer Employment Program, which is being coordinated by the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP) and Athens County Job and Family Services.
Athens County Job and Family Services also operates a separate youth employment program through its federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) activities each summer. This summer, 32 teenagers and young adults are taking part in the WIA program.
For the HAPCAP/Athens County Job and Family Services Summer Employment Program, 71 participants between the ages of 14 and 24 were hired to work between June 11 and Aug. 31, although many will have to leave the program early when school starts.
Federal funding set aside specifically for summer employment programs pays the salaries of all of the participants, and also pays for educational activities, community service projects, free lunches and gas vouchers to help the participants get back and forth to their work sites. The participants work between 30 and 40 hours each week.
“They gain real world work experience,” said Jessica Stroh, who is helping to coordinate the program for HAPCAP. The participants also learn about things like the responsibility involved in having a job, the need to show up on time ready to work, the importance of smiling to co-workers and customers, the understanding of how to interact with a boss, simple things like shaking people’s hands and dealing with them professionally, and even dealing with co-workers. The participants also had to go through an interview process to help match them up with the right employers, and this was another good learning experience.
Taking part in the program also gives the participants the opportunity to look more closely at different jobs and careers they may be interested in. All of these benefits are in addition, of course, to the opportunity to earn a paycheck all summer.
“I’m saving up for college,” said Ember Moran, 15, of Millfield. She hopes to study culinary arts at Hocking College, where she is also hoping to earn a scholarship. Moran likes the work she is doing, and said it is a good first job. She is doing a lot of filing and paperwork in her position, and is also working on special activities such as projects related to flooding.
Chelsie McKee, 19, is also enjoying working in the program, and is using the money she is earning to pay off bills and student loans.
“I really love it here,” McKee said. The Chauncey resident is working on earning her pharmacy tech certificate at Tri-County Adult Career Center. She explained that she has a lot of different job responsibilities in the summer program, and is thankful to be working.
Stroh said that McKee and Moran are both doing outstanding work, and said she is pleased that so many local businesses and organizations are working with the teenagers and young adults this summer. Many of the employers have the participants working on a variety of jobs in order to help them learn about different types of work. Capstone Management, for example, even has a staff member specifically working with the summer employment program kids.
“They are really focusing on helping them build their skills,” Jessica Stroh said.
Businesses and organizations from all across the county are taking part in the work program this summer. These employers include: ABC Chiropractic, ACEnet, ACRE, the Athens County Dog Shelter, Athens County Habitat for Humanity, the Athens County Recycling Center, the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, Athens Head Start, Athens Public Transit, Capstone Property Management, the Chauncey Water Department, Circle Round the Square, the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD), the Coolville Public Library, HAPCAP, the Glouster Police Department, Hocking College, Jacksonville Ceramics, Kasler’s Country Kitchen, the Ohio University Recycling Center, Plaid Butterfly, the Recycled Wardrobe, Sycamore Run, Tish’s Treasures, Trimble Local Schools, the village of Amesville, the village of Glouster, the village of Jacksonville and the village of Trimble.
On Tuesday, Aug. 14, HAPCAP will hold an end-of-the-summer celebration for the Summer Employment Program participants. The event will include an awards ceremony at 10:30 a.m., lunch at noon and special activities held throughout the afternoon.