Summer program puts students to work
In today’s tough economy, it’s hard for many adults to find work, let alone high school or college-age hopefuls who need to earn money to pay for their current or upcoming education expenses.
Knowing the difficulties young people face in the job market, the city of Russellville has once again partnered with the city school system and various local businesses to offer the Russellville Summer Work Program for the second year in a row.
The program is open to high school and college students who are looking for summer job opportunities to help them pay for future college expenses and gain important experience in the business world.
Russellville Mayor Troy Oliver said he knows paying for higher education can be hard, so he hoped this program would give young people chances they might not have otherwise.
“I know from personal experience how hard it can be to get your foot in the door when you’re looking for work,” Oliver said. “This program helps level the playing field and helps these kids who are willing to work find a job for the summer.”
Joe Hamilton, the city’s human resource director, said the program will partner with the Russellville Water, Electric and Gas boards, G&G Steel, Wal-Mart, City Hall, Russellville Municipal Court, the Street Department and the Park and Recreation Department to employ close to 30 students this summer.
“We have these kids go through the same process they would go through if they were applying for an actual job out in the ‘real world,’” Hamilton said. “They send in a resume, come for an interview and get drug tested.
“Once they go through all these channels, we find one of the participating employers that would be best suited for their abilities and we put them to work.”
22-year-old Siran Winston said he used to work at the Chucky Mullins Center with his dad when he was younger. He now attends college at Tuskegee University, but when he came home for the summer and needed to find work, he turned to a summer work program job with the Park and Recreation Department.
“I knew I needed to make some money this summer to help pay some bills and some of my college expenses,” Winston said. “Since I’ve worked at the rec center before, I thought this would be a good place for me to earn some money doing a job that helps other people.”
Winston will be working with the summer feeding program that provides breakfast and lunch to children at three different sites in the city. The kids stay at the site from 8 a.m. until noon, and Winston said they play games and have different activities for them to do during that time period.
“I remember being at the rec center when I was a kid and looking up to the older guys that worked there,” he said. “This program gives me the opportunity to be a good role model for these kids.”
Tori Hodge, a 17-year-old student at Russellville High School, is also working at the rec center through the summer work program.
“I know I’m going to have a lot of expenses coming up soon, so this gives me a chance to make some money to save up for college,” she said.
Park and Rec Director Chad Sears said his department participated in the program last year as well and he was glad to have kids in the area who were willing to work.
“This is a good way for these kids to gain work experience,” Sears said. “They need to learn now the value of working and saving money. The sooner they learn this the better off they will be.”
For students in the program who are placed at businesses like G&G Steel or one of the utility boards, the program becomes a valuable tool in determining their future career.
“Some of the students we get are looking at working with the water department in the future, so this is a good way for them to figure out whether or not they would like this as a career,” Russellville Water and Sewer Board Manager Doug Clement said.
“We participate in this program and other internship programs like it because it’s better for these students to find out now if they like this type of work because if they don’t, they can start looking for a different career they will actually enjoy doing.
“We’re glad to do anything we can to help these kids make good decisions for their future.”