Youth take away more than cash from city’s employment program
BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Keishon Smith will be in his dorm room at Florida A&M University preparing for class in another week. This summer, however, the 18-year-old was schooled on money management, budgeting, banking, work readiness skills and how to be a team player as a participant in the City of Daytona Beach’s Youth Employment Summer (YES) program.
Smith was among 40 Daytona Beach youth who took part in the eight-week program that wrapped up last week. The fully funded $94,000 program received $80,000 in private donations and local business contributions as well as a $14,000 federal Community Development Block Grant.
The youth, ages 15-18, learned about budgeting money, saving as well as real on-the-job skills they can take into the future.
A real job
They were offered words of advice from Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood, Mayor Derrick Henry, Judge Hubert Grimes, and were commended for sticking with the program at last week’s Aug. 6, city commission meeting.
“We made it very adamant that this is a real job,” Daytona Beach Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson told the Daytona Times. “We treated them as employees and had them go through the same process others applying to work for the City of Daytona Beach would go through, including being drug tested and screened.”
The youth also were warned to be careful about what they post on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter and not to text or use social media during work hours.
This was easy for Smith as he had his hands full working at the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Cultural and Educational Center inside the library.
“During the summer I was given a task to help organize the library,” Smith explained. “I used my phone to scan the books, then put it into a spreadsheet file on the computer to help create a more organized system of locating material. Workers from City Island library helped us organize it as well.”
Smith says that he was not confined to the walls of the library. He also performed cleanup in the community to rid Bethune Point Park of graffiti.
“The program was very beneficial. It helped us learn to manage money, buy school clothes, books and other necessary items. I bought a laptop for college, but all the things I purchased were really necessary items,” Smith added.
“It can also help out many families by bringing in extra money. The program is over, but some of the people who were part of it have chosen to volunteer during the school year. I won’t be able to volunteer because I will be away but will continue to help the city when I’m home.’’
All of the young people who participated in the YES program were between 15-18 years old, lived in Daytona Beach, and had at least a 2.0 grade point average.
Smith will be studying electrical engineering at FAMU and has plans of joining the United States Air Force, become an engineer then return to the civilian industry.