In an economy where highly skilled workers are competing for traditional summer jobs, teens all over the country have found it difficult to find employment. For the students in JVS’ Summer Youth Employment program, a summer job isn’t just about saving up for a car or a new pair of jeans, it often means the difference between being able to stay in school, help their families buy groceries, or even provide for their own children.
On August 20, JVS celebrated the successes of the 50 teens who participated in the program with a special graduation at its main office at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard.
Funded by the County of Los Angeles, youth ranging in age from 14-21 were placed in internships in a variety of industries, with their salaries paid by the program.
Tina Hoang, Los Angeles County Manager for the Workforce Investment Act made keynote remarks and especially thanked all of the employers who have participated in the program by providing internship opportunities. William Berry and Ragan Carlile from The Ford Theatre and Foundation spoke about their efforts to expand access to the arts to youth throughout the city and announced that The Ford Theatre has hired the two 2009 SYEP interns and is looking forward to doing the same for this year's students.
The audience also heard from 15-year old Bianca Mardarenko, who interned at The Memorial Library and Eric Leon, who graduated the SYEP program ten years ago and is now attending the USC Gould School of Law.
Said Jon Lamirault, JVS’ Youth Programs Supervisor, “Not only does this program give these youth a chance to work and earn money to help themselves and their families, it teaches them a valuable work ethic that many carry with them when they go back to school. Our program participants have faced a lot of barriers in their lives, such as gang involvement, teen pregnancy, and poverty.This program is a chance for a new beginning.”