“I came into this program thinking that it would just give me something to do for the summer while making money,” says Claudia Marcelin, a rising senior at New Rochelle High School. “But, my experience …proved otherwise and completely exceeded my expectations.”
Ms. Marcelin is one of 25 young people from New Rochelle who took part in the Center for College & Careers Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). While SYEP exposes young people to the workforce and allows them to earn a paycheck, it also opens them to new and wonderful opportunities.
Ms. Marcelin worked at TP Toys and Accessories on North Avenue in New Rochelle under the insightful watch of store owner Kemesha Salmon. As Ms. Marcelin explains, “The lessons I learned weren't for some standardized test, it was for life – the real deal, and I will be forever grateful.”
Ms. Salmon herself is a first-time employer participant in the SYEP, and says that she found the experience rewarding. Having two youth workers was interesting as each came with different skills which benefitted the store. “Claudia hit it out of the park and back again with customer service, and D’shawana was excellent at organizing.” Ms. Salmon hopes that she helped the young women learn a bit more about themselves and where their interests lie so that they can make good choices about their future. “It doesn’t matter where you start or where you are today. That can all change.”
This year, 15 businesses, ranging from offices to restaurants to retail stores, opened their doors to the summer employees. Maureen Higgins, a job developer for The Guidance Center of Westchester, the agency which runs the Center for College & Careers, says that this was one of the most successful SYEP efforts to date, “This year, 11 of our participants were asked to continue on after the end of the program! We’re so excited for them and the businesses.”
The SYEP students received certificates and celebrated the completion of the program during a ceremony hosted by The Beechmont Tavern in New Rochelle. The Beechmont also had two SYEP participants. You can see a video of the ceremony on TGCW’s Facebook page or view photos on Flickr (links at the end of the article).
TGCW thanks the local businesses who participated: Aging Issues Info; Allstate Insurance; Beechmont Tavern; Boys & Girls Club of New Rochelle (Mascaro Clubhouse); Freeman & Sons Home Improvement; Got Thyme; Human Society of Westchester at New Rochelle; iFix4U; New Rochelle Public Library; Our Closet; Patient Care Associates, Inc.; R Café & Tea Boutique; TP Toys and Accessories, Inc.; The WoodenSpoon; The Guidance Center of Westchester (Creative Learning Center; Operations; Human Resources).
SYEP is funded by the Westchester/Putnam Local Workforce Initiative.