Long-running program helps young people zero-in on careers
(pictured above: Career Skill participants (left to right, front row) Carrigan Moore, Danielle Basinger, Jada Penn, Jordan Jessup, Keiyara Leak, Nya Chandler, (middle row) Ryan Horton, Saadiq Johnson, Jaylyn Goodman, Khalid Mills, (back row) Hassan Niang, D.J. Crim, Kiara Rudolph, Tony Saunders and Kyree Wright.)
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Career Skills Program celebrated the end of its 21st session with a banquet at the Piedmont Club last Thursday.
Over the course of the last four months, the 17 kids enrolled in the program took part in workshops, heard from guest speakers and visited local businesses and colleges. All of the activities were designed to help the program participants latch onto a career path and work toward following it.
To those ends, program co-founder Jane Poe and her husband, Steve, began giving exceptional participants $500 scholarships three years ago to help them with educational expenses. Antonio Saunders, 17; Nautica Baldwin, 18; and Khalid Mills, 14; were selected for this year’s scholarships after an interview process during which they were expected to display the skills they learned in the program.
Antonio, a junior, attends private school at Woodland Baptist Church in Rural Hall on scholarship. Antonio and his mother, who are members of Woodland Baptist, have dealt with much tumult in recent months. They have been residing at the Salvation Army Center of Hope family shelter since losing their apartment. It was at the Trade Street shelter where Antonio heard about the Career Skills Program.
“I learned you can do anything as long you put your mind to it and there’s no limit,” he said of the program.
His scholarship win wasn’t the family’s only recent good news. His mother has landed a part-time job and a Section 8 voucher that will soon allow them to move into a place of their own again. Antonio said he’s thankful for all the help the Salvation Army has given them.
“As long as they see you’re working hard and you need some help, they’re willing to help you,” he said.
Nautica, a senior at Atkins Academic and Technology High School, says she will use her money to pay for the uniform and tests for the CNA (certified nursing assistant) course she is taking at Atkins. Her ultimate career goal is to work as a military OB/GYN nurse. She eventually wants to enter politics. Nautica said the program helped her plan her future.
“I’m very thankful. I’m glad all these people partook in my life to help me out,” said Nautica, who plans to major in nursing and take part in ROTC at Winston-Salem State University.
College is still a ways down the road for Khalid, an 8th grader at East Forsyth Middle School, but he said his money will go into his college fund. The aspiring architect said he used the scholarship award contest as practice for the future interviews that will come. He credits the experience with improving his speaking skills.
“It’s kind of like practice, so if I ever apply for a school or a job, at least I know I’ve done it before, so I won’t be nervous,” he said.
All program participants received certificates of completion and heard words of inspiration from Forsyth County Magistrate Rushanna McNair-Wright, who delivered the keynote.
This year, program participants’ outings included visits to HanesBrands and the Public Safety Center, where Police Chief Barry Rountree addressed the youngsters. Poe said the community has embraced the program and its missions.
“It’s just helping students to think about who they are, their calling, each person has such different gifts, and to get them out in the community,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to really use our community as a learning lab.”
Tina Carson-Wilkins, who’s also been with the program since its inception, said while the program’s activities and speakers change from year to year, its goals do not.
“We’re dedicated to trying to make sure our kids are exposed to wonderful new opportunities to learn who they can be and what they can be and that they don’t have to follow the crowd, they’re free to be themselves,” said Carson-Wilkins, the marketing director for the Winston-Salem Transit Authority.