Teens turn out for chance at jobs

Com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion spon­sors fair, hopes to es­tab­lish a youth cen­ter

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Jes­sica An­der­son

Tichet Bias had care­fully picked out a gray pantsuit, black blouse and match­ing heels to wear Satur­day.

It didn’t mat­ter that the suit jacket was a lit­tle long. The 15-year-old and her brother, Noah Steven­son, who wore a but­ton-down shirt and tie, wanted to ap­pear pro­fes­sional be­fore prospec­tive em­ploy­ers at a youth job fair Satur­day hosted by the Waverly Im­prove­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

“They were wait­ing for this day,” said their mother, Kia Hill. She said she didn’t have to tell them what to wear. “They knew busi­ness at­tire,” she said.

The sib­lings were among dozens of young job seek­ers who showed up at St. John’s Epis­co­pal Church for the event. The North Baltimore com­mu­nity group or­ga­nized the job fair as part of a larger ef­fort to pro­vide more ser­vices to teens and younger adults.

“We have noth­ing in the com­mu­nity for that age,” said T.C. Greene, a co-pres­i­dent of the com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion. She ges­tured to­ward the crowd, say­ing the turnout showed the de­mand for more youth op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In ad­di­tion to host­ing prospec­tive em­ploy­ers, the com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion event also pro­vided at­tor­neys to help with ex­pung­ing crim­i­nal records, as well as GED and lit­er­acy re­sources. “We’re try­ing to take a holis­tic ap­proach,” Greene said.

Greene said the group is also try­ing to fund a youth cen­ter in the com­mu­nity to pro­vide lead­er­ship train­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and work­force devel­op­ment. The com­mu­nity group is part­ner­ing with the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity’s Cen­ter for So­cial Con­cern and the Waverly Main Street Com­mu­nity Re­source Con­nec­tions Project on plans for the cen­ter.

Satur­day’s job fair comes shortly af­ter Mayor Cather­ine E. Pugh an­nounced the launch of the an­nual YouthWorks pro­gram, which will pro­vide 8,000 jobs again this sum­mer to young peo­ple in the city. But the five-week-long pro­gram can be com­pet­i­tive — more than 14,000 ap­plied last year for the 8,000 jobs.

In a city with high poverty and high un­em­ploy­ment, the job search can be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially for those who have just started high school or don’t have a driver’s li­cense.

But Satur­day’s job fair had em­ploy­ers from around the city, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Aquar­ium, Mor­gan State Univer­sity and the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity.

Monique Lafa­vors, a cus­tomer ser­vice man­ager with Gi­ant Food, handed out ques­tion­naires for prospec­tive cashiers, bag­gers and clerks, for full-time and part-time po­si­tions at 12 store lo­ca­tions.

At an­other ta­ble, Dana Caine, the re­cruit­ing di­rec­tor for Amer­i­can Pool, spoke about fill­ing one of the com­pany’s 100 life­guard po­si­tions in the Baltimore area.

“This could be their first job,” she said. New life­guards start out mak­ing min­i­mum wage and can choose their hours, she said.

Cache McCray, a 15-year-old Polytech­nic In­sti­tute stu­dent search­ing for her first job, said she was in­ter­ested in a life­guard­ing po­si­tion be­cause she likes the wa­ter.

She also wants to earn her own money. “I want to save and spend. I don’t want to use up all my mother’s money,” she said. As she stopped to speak with re­cruiters, she handed out copies of her first re­sume.

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