Organizations help 100 students with employment
Photo by Timothy Ramsey
BY TIMOTHY RAMSEY
Becoming financially independent and fiscally responsible are valuable skills for a teen to learn. The Initiative for African-American Males (IAAM) looks to teach local teens in Forsyth County just that by helping them obtain part-time jobs along with interview training and resume building skills.
Close to 100 students came out to participate in an I AAM jobs event.
I AAM was started because of the low performance of African-American males throughout Forsyth County’s school district. I AAM seeks to bring awareness to the issue by bringing together community agencies, parents need. Its focus is to increase parental involvement, academic achievement and attendance while also decreasing disciplinary problems.
Lakeisha Hill, assistant principal at Main Street Academy who works with I AAM, says this year I AAM have decided to partner with Forsyth Promise, The Center for Smart Financial Choices and Goodwill to put on a job fair for the children ages 14-19. She says after some collaborative talks between all parties involved they chose not to just single out black males but make it available to all children in the desired age range.
“An idle mind is the devil’s playground, is what I believe,” Hill said. “So we need to teach them some job preparation skills and allow them to actually apply to jobs.”
The day before the job fair, IAAM workers brought the children together for the job preparation portion of the event. During the preparation day, the children were able to create resumes and receive job interviewing skills and possible questions to ask during the interview.
On Feb. 28, the students were asked to come back for the application portion of the event. They were asked to come back dressed for an interview and filled out applications online for multiple jobs.
“A lot of times when you think about employment for teens, you think summer jobs,” Hill continued. “But they need something before and after the summer because a lot of our kids are not participating in after-school activities. We need to have something for them because without that, some teens turn to crime. So I thought if they had money they would be less inclined to steal.”
The parents were thrilled to have their teens participate in the job fair. Verschello Nelson says she wants her son to get a job because it leads to financial literacy and independence.
“I am very happy for him because he wants to earn his own money,” Nelson said. “No one taught me about financial literacy. I had to learn that on my own. So for him to understand it as a 16-year-old preparing for college, I think the earlier he learns, the better off he will be. Jobs give you responsibility and how to budget your money.”
Dr. Gwendolyn Johnson-Green, director of Alternative Education for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, said “Our students now are living in a changing world and they need to develop the skills so that they can survive. They are motivated, engaged and they are the winners and we are looking forward to seeing them grow and develop from this opportunity.”
Deon Carter, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, says they are really pleased with the youth pro-gram at Goodwill. He said they work with young people all year-round and the job fair is something they were passionate about. He thinks this is a necessary program that will help kids with skills as they enter the workforce.
The kids, many dressed in their Sunday best, were excited and hopeful of the possibility of obtaining employment. Kenan Loftin-Bell, a 17-year-old student, said the opportunity to apply for jobs was very helpful.
“This is pretty interesting because you get to meet new people that can help you out and that you can also help,” Loftin-Bell said. “I want to be able to help my mom out with some of the bills and save some money for student loans in the future.”
Another student, Eli Brito-Milian, said, “I feel like it will help me in the future. It helps with your confidence because you will already know what to expect at a job interview. If I get a job, I plan on saving for college and help provide for my family.”