Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Teens Work at GAAH for the Summer

“Miss Steffanie, I know this might be a stupid question, but… how do I get the money from this?”

This serious and revealing question was asked by a teen after he was handed his first paycheck ever from the Program Director of the Cook Arts Center. It became clear that not only was he working at his very first job, but he also had never seen anyone cash a check, nor been taught how to do so. Because of this gap in the necessary knowledge that it takes to succeed in the workforce, the experience at Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities (GAAH) is a significant one for him and his peers, for it may give them a leg up in preparation for a fiercely competitive job market.

Each summer, GAAH is providing the opportunity for teens to get worthwhile, enriching, meaningful job experience while at the same time helping the Grandville Avenue neighborhood. This summer at the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center, 24 teen staff and volunteers are working directly with artists and instructors to ensure a safe and fun learning environment for the elementary school students who are attending.

GAAH works with a number of agencies to provide job opportunities for neighborhood teens, including the Project Cool program, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, and Steepletown. The Cook Arts Center’s Leaders in the Arts program also has engaged teens at both facilities. Each day, the teens are challenged to take initiative, enhancing their sense of responsibility, leadership, and work ethic. In addition to their hard work, teens are also asked to perform normal job duties such as keeping regular hours, filling out time cards, and behaving in a professional manner.

Program Director Steffanie Rosalez said, “It’s so exciting to see teens from our neighborhood growing and engaging with their community in this way. We have some truly outstanding youth in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood, and we are providing special opportunities for them!”

Library Director Sue Garza said, "We have a great crew of teens that are great role models to our students. They are invaluable."

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