GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Twelve teenagers are spending their summer working with tiny tots. The teens started their new jobs this week at the Harry C. Tartt Head Start Center in Gulfport.
The workers are part of the new Summer Youth Employment Program. Companies from five south Mississippi counties are providing the jobs. The Twin District Work Force Area and the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency are receiving more than a million dollars from the economic stimulus package to pay their wages.
"Everyone everywhere is going through trials and tribulations. This particular program is going to stimulate, in the words of our president, this local economy," said the Rev. Charles Branch, the coordinator of the program.
The program has created summer jobs for 356 people, ages 14 to 24. Their duties are quite different, ranging from office work to highway beautification. Other employers include Habitat for Humanity, AMR ambulance service, parks and recreation departments, and libraries.
"Some of the youth in our program are disadvantaged and they're receiving some other type of governmental assistance, and some of them are at-risk youth," said Branch. "By doing this, it keeps them focused. It gives them a firm platform where they can launch out from into the real work world."
Once the on-the-job training is over, the young employees could end up getting hired for permanent positions.
"We are full to capacity. There's a waiting list," said Branch. "Hopefully, if we can get more federal funding, we can get to employ more youth."
The employees work part-time and they make minimum wage. The program also offers classroom instruction. The job training ends September 30th.