As an honor student at Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12, 16-year old Kendre Crawford-Blue is preparing to start school this fall. This year, she’ll be adding a part-time after-school job at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill to her schedule, through the help of JF&CS’s Summer Youth Employment program.
Benefiting young adults ages 14 – 21, the program matches local at-risk and refugee youth with internship opportunities with community agencies and is designed to help program participants gain valuable skills to prepare them for joining the workforce or continuing their education after high school.
JF&CS partners with area organizations to provide program participants with opportunities to experience first-hand the human service and business aspects of local agencies. Last year, JF&CS placed 15 youth with internships at four different sites. This year, JF&CS was able to expand the program to place a total of 20 youth at six different sites in Squirrel Hill for the six week duration, including the Jewish Community Center (JCC), Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA), Girl Scouts, Schenley Gardens and Dress for Success.
In addition to learning job-readiness skills like responsibility and presentation prior to starting their internships, participants were mentored along the way to ensure success at their new jobs. They received guidance on taking initiative; following direction; and respecting supervisors, clients and people from various cultures, races and religions.
This summer, Kendre was placed at an internship as a childcare worker at the JCC’s Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC). Throughout her internship, Kendre supervised children, planned and engaged in age-appropriate activities and provided general childcare services for infants to two-year-olds.
“It’s fun and fast-paced, and more fulfilling compared to a McDonald’s job,” she said.
As an aspiring pediatric nurse, the placement turned out to be a natural fit, and Kendre is even more determined to make her dream happen. As the summer winds down and the interns have wrapped up their internships and prepare to return to school, Kendre is the only intern to have been offered an opportunity to stay at her placement as an employee, although supervisor feedback at all sites was very positive.
“I’m really happy and honored. I’m so thankful for this placement, I’ve been trying to get a job since I turned 16 in February,” she said. “My family is very proud of me.”
For Kelly Gable-LaBelle of the JCC’s ECDC, and Kendre’s site supervisor, Kendre is an exceptional example of the interns JF&CS provides through the program.
“Kendre is a wonderful intern. She took this opportunity so seriously, and we’re so pleased to have her join us as employee,” she said.
To prospective job-seekers and fellow interns young and old, Kendre encourages perseverance.
“Take every opportunity seriously,” she said. “People are always watching, and you never know what can come of it. Look at what happened to me.”
JF&CS believes that providing quality opportunities and mentoring support for our community’s youth is key to helping at-risk youth, with the help of a caring community, realize that they can build a better tomorrow. For more information on how you can become involved in helping local youth, contact Jeanne Williams at 412-586-3725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.