2009-09-10 / News

Youths grow employability skills, confidence in 'stimulus' jobs

LEARNING ON THE JOB Terissa Bird of Prudenville shelves books at Houghton Lake Public Library as a Michigan Works! employee. She is one of dozens of Roscommon County youths hired for the summer with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. She is learning research, organizational and communication skills. (Courtesy photo) Preliminary Trestle LEARNING ON THE JOB Terissa Bird of Prudenville shelves books at Houghton Lake Public Library as a Michigan Works! employee. She is one of dozens of Roscommon County youths hired for the summer with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. She is learning research, organizational and communication skills. (Courtesy photo) Preliminary Trestle Over the past several months, about 252 youths have been gaining workplace skills working in 92 different sites in a six-county area for Michigan Works! Region 7B Consortium.

Earning much more than just a paycheck, these youths ages 16 to 24 have learned leadership and self confidence skills. There are 14 sites throughout Roscommon County, which employed as many as 36 youths this summer.

Local supervisors have served as mentors for many who were employed for the first time. Using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, commonly known as federal stimulus money, youths are working in different non-profit agencies and governmental offices during the 10-week Summer Employment Program.

St. Vincent de Paul

David McIntyre of Prudenville is learning much during his first real job.

"I help with the compactor," he said. "I love to do something besides watching TV and sitting on the couch. I am meeting good friends. They treat me like family here."

"This is a win-win situation with St. Vincent's and Michigan Works!" Bud Domurath of St. Vincent de Paul said. "We like to combine resources. With a little money invested, we are helping kids stay off the poverty roles. This money is well spent on these kids."

The five member team, including McIntyre, is learning first hand about retail management as they sort clothes, household goods, and furniture. They also arrange the racks and shelves, and keep the store well stocked and organized. The youths are providing excellent customer service and they assist customers with carry-out items when needed. The teen team also volunteered to help with the food drive and other extra curricular events.

"Their self esteem has increased as they are bringing home money," Domurath said. "If we are trying to increase self esteem, what a better way than to give them a job."

Houghton Lake Public Library

Terissa Bird of Prudenville was hoping to gain job experience since working at the library is her first job. Not only is she learning the Dewy Decimal System, she is carrying on a family tradition of sorts.

"I am going back to high school in the fall. I hope to help out in the library there where my brother and mom aided before," she said.

"Libraries are a good place to start for future jobs - she is learning research, organizational and communication skills," Houghton Lake Public Library Director Donna Alward said.

The summer youth program is teaching work maturity skills too, such as showing up on time and dressing appropriately.

"We didn't have money to hire someone for the summer," Houghton Lake Public Library Director Donna Alward said. "She is assisting with the Wigglers with preschool aged kids' storytime, shelving books and taking care of the gardens.

"The library garden is my favorite place to be," Bird said. "I trim everything and love to deadhead. It gives me time to sit and think."

Roscommon County Animal Shelter

Cammi Green of Prudenville, a Michigan Works! paid supervisor, relocated to the Houghton Lake area to help take care of four family members. After a string of bad luck and car trouble, Green was growing frustrated with her job search. She came to the Summer Employment program in search of experience and money to fix her car and potentially save for college.

"Since I love animals, I want to be a vet assistant," she said. "This experience will give me a jump start to start saving my money. This is the most pay I have ever earned per hour. My goal is to get a car and not have to depend on my dad which gets overwhelming."

Green supervises crew members who clean and sanitize kennels, feed dogs and cats and walk and socialize the dogs.

"I am teaching them basic tricks and to stop jumping," she said. "People won't adopt a dog that is hyper."

Most youths in the summer program will work until the end of September.

An appreciation event for all the youths and their supervisors who participated from Roscommon County, as well as Michigan Works! officials, will be held Sept. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Houghton Lake Public Library.

Michigan Works! Region 7B Consortium serves employers and job seekers

in Roscommon, Clare, Gladwin, Arenac, Ogemaw and Iosco Counties. approved

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