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Hundreds of young workers start summer jobs through Hire One Youth

Topaz Crowder, is one of seven Baltimore area youth who will be working for the FutureCare Homewood health care facility.
Topaz Crowder, is one of seven Baltimore area youth who will be working for the FutureCare Homewood health care facility. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

The seven Baltimore youths starting summer jobs at FutureCare learned Monday about the challenges and opportunities they will experience, thanks to the city's Hire One Youth program.

"If you go home and you're not tired, we're not doing our jobs," Barbara Bartels, FutureCare's human resources director, told the nursing home operator's new employees.

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The youths are among the nearly 600 young people who have started work at more than 100 businesses as part of the private sector's participation in this year's city summer employment program, YouthWorks. They started their five-week summer jobs on June 29 and Monday.

Begun in 2012, Hire One Youth gives young people ages 16-21 opportunities to work in the professional world that they wouldn't have otherwise, according to the city's assistant director for Youth Services Ernest Dorsey.

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"Most young people only think about a career someone down the street or a cousin or uncle is doing because they're never been exposed to anything else," he said.

According to Dorsey, 44 young people from last year's Hire One pool were hired in some capacity — either full-time, part-time or on breaks from school — by their summer employer.

"That's a win-win for the employer," he said. "They've made an investment in that employee."

At FutureCare, Bartels led an orientation at its Homewood campus for the seven young people hired for the summer. Her information session covered proper work attire and language, professional boundaries, patient confidentiality and infection prevention in health care.

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Their duties will include clerical tasks, assisting with transporting residents and running activities like bingo, Bartels said.

The summer hires learned that customer service principles are used just as much in health care as they are in other industries, like fast food, where several youths said they had considered working for the summer before they joined Hire One Youth.

"Everything you do in terms of customer service is to make sure that you're making this a good experience," Bartels told the trainees, encouraging them to exchange pleasantries with residents and staff and to address patients with titles like Mr. and Mrs.

Topaz Crowder, 19, who studies dental hygiene at Baltimore City Community College, said her summer job with FutureCare will help her toward her goal of becoming an orthodontist.

"This is perfect," she said. "It'll get me more into the health care world."

Shaheedah Abdul-Malik, 17, said her job with FutureCare will teach her how to interact with patients who may be under stress.

"That would be a challenge for me. I would have to keep my composure and smile," said Abdul-Malik, who graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who asked businesses in June to provide additional job slots to the city's youths, said in a statement that programs like Hire One Youth can help improve the city.

"Hire One Youth represents the kind of cooperation between government and the private sector that can help us to continue uplifting communities all across Baltimore," she said. "My administration has worked to grow and build this initiative because we understand how important it is to engage our young people early and help them to develop the skills they need to find jobs."

Edouard Laguerre, the building services coordinator for the Maryland Institute College of Art, said that MICA hired 10 young people for this summer.

"This could set them up for the rest of their life," he said.

According to Laguerre, MICA hired several current full-time employees after they worked there through Hire One Youth.

During the FutureCare training session, Bartels encouraged the youths to ask coworkers about their career paths.

"Ask them stories about how they got where they are," she said. "Many started off where you are."

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