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More than 40 teens enrolled in city’s youth work program
Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard
Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard addresses the more than 40 participants in the city’s summer youth enhancement program. Photos by Pat Donahue

For the next several weeks, more than 40 teenagers are getting to know what the working world is like, thanks to the City of Hinesville.

The city has started its summer youth enhancement program, with 43 young people serving in a variety of roles. Some are even back for a second go-round, such as 16-year-old Aliyah Jones.

“I loved it,” she said. “I loved being in the program.”

A student at Bradwell Institute, Jones has her sights on attending Florida A& M University and going into the health care field. She got experience with that last year, working with Diversity Health Clinic.

“Last year, I learned a lot, especially dealing with health care,” she said, “because that’s what I want to do when I graduate college. I not only made money but I also learned what is like to be in health care, dealing with customers, paperwork and having customers trust you with your paperwork and how important it is to come to work on a day-to-day basis with a positive attitude.”

In greeting the teens before they began their training, Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard relayed to them one of his first jobs, working with the Forestry Commission, and how important being on time was.

And being on time just mean being there right as the work day starts, Howard emphasized. It means being there early.

“This is an experience you’re going to remember for the rest of your lives. So give your all to learn as much as you can and go on to the next chapter in your life,” he told the class of teens.

It is also the largest group the city has brought in during the four years it has had the summer program. The city originally budgeted to have slots for 30 teenagers.

“We said we would not turn anyone down,” Howard said.

Mayor Karl Riles said he was proud of the city’s human resources department for finding the spots for the additional youth.

“We thought it was so important that we could provide opportunities for every kid in the program that we found funding for it,” he said. “They could have been at home, they could be playing video games, but here are kids who want to work, who want to learn. We found it was very important we provide that opportunity.”

Among the goals of the program, Riles said, were to instill what are known as “soft skills” into the teens, attributes such as timeliness and interpersonal connections.

“It shows a dedication and a commitment to the next generation,” he said.

The city has more than 30 partners in the community, so teens are getting placed within various city departments and with local businesses.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this program,” the mayor said. “We have businesses requesting more kids. We have one student her previous employer asked to send her back again. Our partners are interested in seeing our youth succeed, and we’re excited we’re able to provide quality employees for the summer.”

If not for the six-weeklong program, Jones surmised she likely would be cutting lawns with her grandfather. Instead, she’s hoping to get paired with Diversity’s ultrasound technician to help her on her path to becoming a radiologist.

From her experience last year, she learned other things too, such as filling out a time sheet.

“This is a great program for anyone to learn and to make money for the first time,” Jones said. “It’s just a great learning experience. Little did they know they are going to learn valuable information. I understood that it was something new. I would have to interact with new people. I was ready to do something different and learn something new.”

teens enrolled
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