By KAITLYN NAPLES
Bristol Community Organization was able to employ 50 teens this summer, thanks to the state-funded Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program.
The program allows individuals between the ages of 16 and 18, to spend their summer at various worksites in the area, Nancy Micloskey said, who is the social services manager at BCO. She said the program has two goals: to provide subsidized work experience to teenagers who are able to work in their community, and to offer career readiness skills, like setting up mock interviews, time management, and financial organization.
The state-funded youth employment program is under the umbrella of Capital Workforce Partners, located in Hartford, which works with organizations like BCO to set up programs like the Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program at BCO.
“The program provides free and reduced lunch teens the opportunity to have meaningful work experience in the summer,” Micloskey said, adding that BCO also worked with the Board of Education to bring in students.
This summer, Kaci Manderson was able to take on her first job at Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center. The Bristol Eastern High School student is entering into her senior year this fall, and joined the summer program because she had been looking for a job and wasn’t having any luck.
“I was going into this willing to work anywhere,” Manderson said, adding that she ended up really enjoying her time at Shepard Meadows, and found out she loves horses.
“I didn’t know they have personalities,” she said, which is something that came as a shock to her. Manderson spent the sum mer working around the stables with the horses, doing yard work, and also office work. Manderson said she intends to pursue a career that would work with animals, and said, if her school schedule allows, she will volunteer at Shepard Meadows during the year.
Jon Paredes graduated from Bristol Central High School this year, and worked in the BCO program last summer. “I didn’t expect the experience I actually had,” he said.
This summer, Paredes worked at City Hall in the Public Works Department. He spent time issuing dump permits, processing service requests, issuing trash cans, and working on his customer service skills. Even though Paredes is going into massage therapy next year, he said he wants to gain as much knowledge and practice in customer service as possible. Last year, he worked at the Imagine Nation Museum, and he said with the work experience and classes the students take on career readiness skills, he was able to land a job at Walgreens.
A Terryville High School Student, Alexa Lestage, said she went into the BCO program “open minded.” However, a broken foot restricted her from being able to work on her feet this summer, so she spent her time at BCO. She said she answered the phone and worked the front desk, and learned how to have “proper phone etiquette, how to dress when you’re dealing with the public, and even how to be polite when someone is being rude to you,” Lestage said.
She added she plans to apply for a new job while she enters into her senior year this fall.
By KAITLYN NAPLES