Thirty students learned what it means to have a job through Hinesville’s inaugural Summer Youth Enhancement Program.
Students, their family and Hinesville city council members attended a closing ceremony Friday morning at City Hall in the Council Chambers, where the youth were recognized.
The city of Hinesville partnered with WorkSource Coastal, who sponsored the teens, ages 14-18, for summer employment at different businesses in the city and career development for four weeks.
WorkSource Coastal provides leadership for workforce development in several surrounding counties.
They also provide employment and training services resources for youth who are both in and out of school. The organization focuses on career and educational development, work readiness training and work placement.
The summer work program included life skills classes on employment, public speaking, finance management, higher education and more.
Daijah Robinson welcomed everyone to the ceremony and Elisa Wilkins read her winning essay about the person who influences her the most. She wrote about her father and how much he inspires her.
Attendees then watched a video highlighting their time during the program.
Hinesville Assistant City Manager Kenneth Howard said he participated in a similar program many years ago.
“I can tell you that over the years that I have been in positions, I could always go back and pull from the experience I learned when I was a youth working at different places,” Howard said “and getting advice and counsel from the individuals that were part of my experience.”
He encouraged the students to also learn from their experience.
Superlative certificates were given out to students for various categories such as most enthusiastic, most dedicated, best interview and budget master.
Each student then received certificates for participation.
Athor Ancheta shared what the program meant to him.
He learned how to use and save money, the benefits of higher education and how to interview for a job.
The program also impacted Ancheta.
“I used to be this shy little kid,” Ancheta said. “I didn’t like to talk about myself but now I’m in front of you all. This has made me break out of my shell. I really liked this program because it helped me become a new person.”
Howard talked about how the program came together. He said the mayor and city council wanted to do a summer youth program for some time. They decided to move forward with the project during a workshop earlier this year.
Howard said Liberty County Commissioner Chairman Donald Lovette contacted Mike Tucker of WorkSource Coastal whose organization had funding for a summer work program targeting youth ages 14-18.
Tiera Brown of WorkSource Coastal said she and her staff enjoyed working with the students and mentioned more opportunities teens can take advantage off.
Hinesville city council members Diana Reid, Vicky Nelson and Keith Jenkins were present for the ceremony. They each encouraged the students to contact them if they need help and said they were impressed with the teens’ dedication to the program. A small reception was held after the ceremony.