Youths get to work as summer program kicks off

June 30, 1993|By Katherine D. Ramirez | Katherine D. Ramirez,Staff Writer

A story in yesterday's Evening Sun incorrectly reported the number of youths employed by Mission Youth Maryland. The state summer jobs program employs more than 1,400. The story also misstated an eligibility requirement for youths participating in the federally funded portion of Commonwealth Youth Services, which employs city youths. The income limit is about $16,800 for a family of four.

The Evening Sun regrets the errors.

Mission Youth Maryland kicked off its second annual summer jobs program yesterday, employing 66 economically disadvantaged Maryland youths at various state agencies.

The participants in the program, also called the Governor's Summer Youth Initiative, are selected from a pool of applicants between the ages of 14 and 21. Some are high school dropouts who eventually earned their diplomas, while others are high school students or graduates.


For some, working for the state will be their first job. It is also an opportunity for all the participants to benefit from a positive environment, said Martin W. Walsh Jr., secretary of the Department of General Services.

"The program enables these kids to see successful people as role models. It is a reinforcement of values," said Mr. Walsh.

The youths will earn the minimum wage, $4.25 an hour, in jobs such as maintenance of state buildings, clerical work and general office duties.

This year Mission Youth Maryland has received less federal and state money and has employed fewer young people than last summer, when 110 had jobs. Given President Clinton's failure to win approval of an economic stimulus package, Mr. Walsh said the program has been fighting to continue.

Halfway through last summer, Mr. Walsh explained, more federal money became available as part of an emergency grant in response to the Los Angeles riots, and the state was able to add jobs for young people. Although the same may not happen this year, he said that "we have a waiting list for people who were not originally selected. If any one drops out of the program we can give the opportunity to someone else," said Mr. Walsh.

Commonwealth Youth Services, which provides employment and educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged Baltimore youths, reviews applications and chooses participants for the state program. Commonwealth often refers young Baltimoreans who no longer meet the city's stringent annual income requirements, approximately $14,000 for a family of four, to Mission Youth Maryland. A Commonwealth counselor who referred Larre Figgs, 18, to the state program helped her land her first job.

"It will help because I need the job experience," said Ms. Figgs, who will be a freshman at New York University in the fall. She said the work will be a stepping stone into the job market.

"I am going to work throughout the school year to help pay for college," she said.

Maurice Elsezy, 17, of Baltimore, was also referred to Mission Youth Maryland by Commonwealth. This will be his second summer at General Services, where he worked last year repairing telephones.

Mr. Elsezy said one of his reasons for returning was the structure the program provides, especially helping him manage his money and establish goals.

"To get the things I want, I need to go to college," he said. "This experience is an important first step."

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