Teens spend their vacation at work

August 19, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

At 15, Zanette Hines looks like a pro as she answers telephones with a polite voice and uses the word-processing program to type the doctor's letters in an office at Sinai Hospital.

But this is only a summer job for the Pimlico teen, who over the last two months has gained the experience of working in an office setting. She's gained the trust of medical professionals at Sinai who work with her.

This is the kind of esteem-builder that officials at the Northwest Baltimore Corp. were hoping for in its summer jobs program for Zanette and 21 other Pimlico-area teen-agers. The program pays them minimum wage for jobs at Sinai, other medical centers and area businesses. More valuable is the exposure to a professional atmosphere.

"It's different, for a summer job," said Zanette, a 10th-grade student at Western High School. "Most people, you'd expect to work at a McDonald's. I'm in an office."

All summer, she's worked in the pediatric oncology unit at Sinai, five hours a day, four days a week. She's served as secretary -- Dr. Charles Medani, a Sinai nephrologist, trusts her enough to allow her to rewrite letters he's dictated. And she's worked with children in the playroom, feeding babies who were only days old.

Shakira Reazer, 17, a Carver High student, has spent the summer working in Sinai's radiology unit. Nakeshia Lewis, 16, of Northwestern High, worked in nuclear medicine. Some teens have worked in patient's records, purchasing and food services at the hospital. Others spent the last several weeks at other businesses and institutions in the area.

"Nobody wears overalls, you know what I mean?" said Barbara Arthur, supervisor of the Northwest Baltimore Corp.'s summer jobs program. "They're all doing executive or administrative jobs."

Except for Fridays. That is when all participants in the program go into neighborhoods in Northwest Baltimore wearing orange T-shirts that read, "NWBC Impact Team," as they perform community-service projects. They have cleaned a trash-strewn tot lot, streets and playgrounds.

The community-service component is the only thing that appears to make the teen-agers frown.

"You've got to clean up -- and look at the shirt," said Nakeshia, pointing to the orange shirt worn by Ms. Arthur. "That's a trash-truck shirt. If my friends see it, they're going to laugh."

Ms. Arthur said the teens selected for the program live in the area near the Pimlico racetrack. They must have at least a 75 average in school and an attendance rate of at least 80 percent.

The program, now in its 12th year, ends today.

She said the teens come from various backgrounds, but most are members of low-income families. The program's support comes from money provided to the Northwest Baltimore Corp. to compensate the community for the impact of the Pimlico racetrack.

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