Summer program putting students to work

Ninety-two find jobs through First State Community Action
August 14, 2019

Sussex Tech sophomore Jaliah Gamble has been learning a lot about what it takes to be an attorney.

“If you want to be a lawyer, it's your life,” she said.

As a member of First State Community Action's summer youth program, Jaliah worked in the Georgetown office of Dohring Law, helping process financial statements needed for Family Court hearings.

“Family Court was interesting because emotions were high,” she said.

Jaliah was one of 92 students put to work through the summer youth program, which employs students in Kent and Sussex counties. This year's group has 12 more students than last year, making it the most in program history, said Sandi Hagans-Morris, program director for the summer program.

“A lot of the kids have sports as an interest, but we want them to have a plan B,” she said.

For seven weeks, teens worked at 43 places that included Carlton's in Rehoboth Beach, the Freeman Stage, Habitat for Humanity, various Boys & Girls clubs, and other social service groups.

But waking up in the morning and putting in a full day of work was just part of the program. Four times throughout the seven-week program, Hagans-Morris said, students received individualized coaching on a variety of job-building skills that included interviewing and dressing for success.

“Let's make these kids employable,” she said. “Not all of the kids want to go to college. This is about college and career readiness. These are skills they need so they can compete in the workplace.”

Speaking during the program luncheon July 31, Bernice Edwards, executive director of First State Community Action Agency, told students that this is only the beginning for them.

“It's not going to be easy. Life's not easy. But each one of you in this room should be leaders,” she said.

David Bull, director of human resources for First State Community Action, said students are only cheating themselves if they do not give all they have to whatever their pursuit is.

“There are expectations in life, and there are rules,” he said. “Don't hate the game; learn how to play the game.”

Fifteen-year-old Nacesseca Cherazard turned her summer experience into a year-round internship at First State Community Action. Nacesseca started in First State's youth program in third grade, and she will continue working when her school year at Sussex Tech begins.

“I've learned so much that I didn't know before,” she said.

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