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Robinson Gardens Youth Group

Robinson Gardens youth land summer employment

Robinson Gardens youth land summer employment

Summer jobs – they are the lifeblood of teens everywhere.

And at Springfield Housing Authority’s Robinson Gardens Apartments, they go hand-in-hand with the Youth Program that has engaged so many young people who otherwise would likely be hanging around watching a lot more television and doing a lot less for themselves and their community.

This summer, nine Youth Group members have landed jobs through a joint partnership with the New England Farm Workers’ Council. They range in age from 14 to 21, and are working as school camp counselors, office clerks, events organizers and hospital assistants.

Zariah Carter, 14, is working as a camp counselor at Dorman Elementary School this summer as part of the Robinson Gardens Youth Group.

Zariah Carter, 14, is working as a camp counselor at Dorman Elementary School this summer as part of the Robinson Gardens Youth Group.

For Zariah Carter and Breann Smith, the program means a first-ever paying job as youth counselors in the summer learning program at the nearby Dorman Elementary School, where they are helping children and supporting teachers throughout their days working on literacy and other academic skills.

“I’m really happy I got this job because I love working with kids,” said Breann, who is 14 and will soon be a sophomore at Central High School.

“The money will be great too. I’m going to try to save as much as I can,” she added.

Her friend Zariah agreed, saying her work life has been limited to the occasional babysitting job up until now.

“I’ve always liked little kids so this is perfect for me. I’m learning a lot about having a job and what that means – getting to work on time, doing what needs to be done, things like that,” said Zariah, also 14. She is a student at the Springfield Renaissance School.

Springfield Housing Authority Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell and Talk/Read/Succeed! Outreach Coordinator Lynne Cimino give tips and advice to working teens at Robinson Gardens Apartments.

Springfield Housing Authority Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell and Talk/Read/Succeed! Outreach Coordinator Lynne Cimino give tips and advice to working teens at Robinson Gardens Apartments.

The partnership between the Youth Group and New England Farm Workers’ Council is in its third year, proving successful at making employment matches for all teens and young adults at Robinson Gardens who qualify and need work.

SHA Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell said the jobs culminate work done throughout the year honing skills such as academic success, financial literacy, setting goals and making a personal sense of responsibility an important goal. Helping the youth find employment brings all of that work together nicely.

“Having these youth in summer jobs means the world to them, and it shows them they can make a goal and get to it,” Mitchell said. “We always strive to help them do good things for themselves, things that will lead them toward good and productive lives once they grow up. Working in a job is such a big part of that.”

Jobs run through August.

Robinson Gardens Youth Group members and coordinators celebrate their summer jobs.

Robinson Gardens Youth Group members and coordinators celebrate their summer jobs.

At the start of this summer, the group of nine met with Mitchell and Talk/Read/Succeed! Outreach Coordinator Lynne Cimino, to review important job skills such as arriving to work on time every day, being cheerful, energetic and cooperative, and putting away the cell phones while on the job. Cimino said these skills are key to youth keeping summer jobs.

“I tell them to get to work a few minutes early. Work hard. Do what they’re told,” she said.

Cimino and Mitchell meet weekly with the working youth to discuss how things are going, and offer advice when needed.

T/R/S! is a family-based early literacy program that units two SHA family developments, Robinson Gardens and Sullivan, with their feeder elementary schools, Dorman and Boland.

Briann Smith, 14, is working as a camp counselor at Dorman Elementary School.

Briann Smith, 14, is working as a camp counselor at Dorman Elementary School.

While most of the participating youth – six of the nine employed – are working at Dorman, others have found work elsewhere.

That includes Racquel Sewell, who is working in the office at Reed Village Apartments, another SHA family development.

“It’s great,” said the 17-year-old, who will be a senior at Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy.

“I’m studying business information management, so this is perfect for me. I’m learning how an office works and how I can be a part of that. It’s such good experience,” she said.

Racquel Sewell, 17, is working in a Springfield Housing Authority district office at Reed Village Apartments.

Racquel Sewell, 17, is working in a Springfield Housing Authority district office at Reed Village Apartments.

At age 21, Stacey Sands has participated in the jobs program before. This year, she is helping to organize events with the Stone Soul Festival Committee. She said the job is a perfect fit.

“I’m a people person, I like being with people and helping people,” said Sands, who is a criminal justice major at Springfield Technical Community College and a past president of the RG Youth Group.

A key part of the work of the Youth Group is helping to promote financial literacy. Mitchell said members, who meet every weekday afternoon in the Robinson Gardens community center, have become well versed in putting their money in the bank, setting goals, and having funds when needed.

“Our youth here are learning about the value of working and the value of saving money for things in their future,” Mitchell said.

 

2933 days ago / Robinson Gardens Youth Group
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