2009-08-07 / Opinions & Editorial

Gov. Deval Patrick recognizes "Youth Works" program

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN MANN

Anthony Semidey and Denise Ramos give Governor Deval Patrick a T-shirt as a way to thank Patrick for visiting Leominster and also for his support of the Youth Works statewide summer employment program. Through the program, 450 youth in North Central Massachusetts gained employment for five weeks over the summer. Anthony Semidey and Denise Ramos give Governor Deval Patrick a T-shirt as a way to thank Patrick for visiting Leominster and also for his support of the Youth Works statewide summer employment program. Through the program, 450 youth in North Central Massachusetts gained employment for five weeks over the summer. As an assistant on the summer ice cream truck in his neighborhood, Governor Deval Patrick admits he was paid mostly in snow cones.

Patrick had the opportunity to reminisce back to his first paid summer job, as he met with about 20 local youth who are employed through the state funded Youth Works program.

Patrick spent an hour talking to the youth at the Doyle Conservation Center earlier this week. He also took a tour of the grounds, which have been maintained and cleaned up from the Ice Storm of 2008 by 15 youth involved in the summer employment program.

Patrick visited Fitchburg and Leominster days after the ice storm, and witnessed the devastation to the area. Patrick was impressed with the progress that has been made, and said it spoke about the people in the communities.

"There is a wonderful community spirit here," said Patrick.

Patrick also visited Fitchburg earlier in the day, taking part in a Creative Economy Tourism Roundtable, with business and community leaders from the area.

"Most of the growth in the Commonwealth has and will come from small businesses," said Patrick.

In Leominster, Patrick focused on the youth, and thanked them for their service to the community.

"We appreciate what you have done for this property, and for this Commonwealth," said Patrick.

He encouraged the kids to continue to volunteer at their job sites after the five-week long program ends. He admitted after the meeting that he does worry the funds for the summer employment program will dry up, and that is why he talked up volunteering.

"A sense of service has to be called out to help us get through this (economy downturn)," said Patrick.

As the youth spoke with Patrick, they talked about the positive experiences they have been having.

Although she had another job before this one, 18-year-old Kayla Shea said working in City Hall this summer was her first "awesome" job.

Shea's job was to help people who entered City Hall find the office or information they needed.

"I love helping people, it is the best feeling in the world," said Shea.

It also gave her the opportunity to learn about the city in which she lives.

"I didn't know who the mayor was or who did what," said Shea.

Shea also learned about herself; the job gave her a chance to work on her social skills as well.

Mayor Dean Mazzarella said Shea made a positive impact on City Hall employees, which is something the youth may not even realize they did at their job sites.

"You really made an incredible impact on people," said Mazzarella. "Whatever you did, you all did such a good job at it. You impressed all of us."

Edson Tyal of Fitchburg has been working as a senior staff member at Mount Wachusett Community College's Summer Up program. Everyday, he works with children ages 6-12.

Tyal quickly learned the impact he could have in those children's' lives, and knew he had to become a positive role model for them.

Tyal said it takes a different set of skills to work with children, and that learning patience was the most important thing.

The 450 North Central Massachusetts youth employed through the program all went through a two-day employability training session.

After meeting with the governor, Tyal said he thought it was a good experience.

"What we say will influence or help with the decisions the governor makes," said Tyal.

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