Teens flock downtown seeking jobs for summer Hundreds wait in line to register for program

April 05, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Teen-agers eager to join Baltimore's work force this summer are flocking to the City Youth Works center downtown in hopes of improving their economic future.

"In my family there are seven kids, so money is sometimes tight," said Shynia Williams, 15, who was excited to be applying for her first job. "I plan to use the money I earn this summer to buy my own school clothes and help my mom with some of the bills."

Carrying her Social Security card, birth certificate and student identification, Williams patiently waited with hundreds of youngsters yesterday, the last day of spring break in Baltimore, to register for the City Youth Works program. More than 1,300 teen-agers visited the center this week.

The jobs program, which will be funded this year by a $3.9 million federal grant and private contributions, will provide minimum-wage jobs for about 3,200 city youths from low-income families, said Karen Sitnick, assistant director of the Baltimore City Office of Employment Development.

Sitnick hopes an additional 1,200 jobs will be provided by private sector employers.

"I like working during the summer because it gives me a chance to make new friends," said Lauren Hall, 15, of the 3500 block of Copley Road.

This will be the second year for Hall to participate in the summer jobs program.

Last year, she worked at a day care center in East Baltimore.

"I really liked my job because I got to play with the kids," she said. Hall. "I also learned how to get along with other people and what it takes to work well with others."

That is the kind of self-esteem builder that city officials wanted to create when they started the summer jobs program more than 20 years ago, said Ernest Dorsey, manager of the program.

"We are training the work force of the future," he said. "We want to make sure they realize what the working world is like on a day-to-day basis and are prepared to embark on their careers."

But each year, there are more teen-agers than jobs, Dorsey said.

It costs $650 to employ a teen-ager in the five-week program, and private sector participation sometimes is slow in coming, officials said. So to encourage involvement by businesses, the federal government offers tax breaks to companies that hire youngsters who live in the city's empowerment zones.

To register for the program, or for information on how to help, call 410-396-JOBS.

Pub Date: 4/05/97

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