Children visit the working world


At banks, stores, hospitals, courts and other businesses across the Baltimore region yesterday, thousands of girls -- and more than a few boys -- got a firsthand look at what their parents do all day.

At the Carroll County Bank and Trust Co. in Westminster, 12-year-old Beth Fisher helped her mother, Diane Fisher, copy pages of a report and assemble them.

"Now, when I come home and have things to tell her, she has a point of reference," said Mrs. Fisher, an investment portfolio assistant in the bank's Trust Division. "If she has to give up so much of me to my job, then I'm glad that I can share that with her."

The third annual "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" was expanded by many companies this year to include sons -- a change criticized by the Ms. Foundation for Women, which sponsors the event to foster self-esteem in girls and expose them to career possibilities.

"Three hundred sixty-four days of the year the primary focus of society is on boys," said Ms. Foundation spokeswoman Idelisse Malave. "One day out of 365, please focus on girls."

Jill A. Ruppersberger, 16, whose father is the Baltimore County executive, saw her father get down to running a government. Their day began with a meeting with C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger III's economic adviser.

"I've seen the hand-shaking and the show," she said. "I didn't realize how much he did with the economy."

Tera Fadrowski, 11, spent the day inspecting broken elevators and malfunctioning air-conditioning systems at the Rouse Co.'s headquarters in Columbia. Her father, Matt, is the building supervisor.

To her surprise, her father spent much of his day sitting at a desk, keeping track of invoices, schedules and repair work.

"He works so much on the computer," Tera said. "I thought he would do building work."

With three siblings to compete with, Tera said she relished spending time alone with her dad. "This is one of the few times I get to sit down with you," she told him.

Kids didn't just shadow their parents. Some were put to work.

LaToya Thomas, 16, was hunched over a computer printout listing the Baltimore City Circuit Court docket, checking to make sure her mother, Lorraine, didn't make any mistakes in her data entry. She also prepared her mother's weekly docket reports through September.

"I knew I was going to work down here and not just sit around and do nothing," LaToya said. "It was a lot of work. Different from school."

For some youths, the visits provided a glimpse of a career they might pursue.

Shana Council, 16, wants to be a criminal attorney.

Her mother, Ernestine, a personnel associate at the state prerelease center in Jessup, had plans to take Shana across the street to the Brock Bridge Correctional Facility to see the kinds of people she would have to deal with.

Shana wanted to watch her mother work, but was content to skip the prison tour.

"I really love seeing the outcome of criminal cases," she said. "But I don't think I need to go across the street. It's depressing."

Other children got a look at how their parents deal every day with life and death.

Fourteen-year-old Tridonna Gilmore said she saw her mother, Karen Gilmore, in a different light after working side-by-side with the nurse support technician at Greater Baltimore Medical Center's oncology unit in Towson.

She helped her mother deliver breakfast trays, take patients' vital signs and even remove the body of a dead patient.

"I knew she worked hard, but I didn't know she had to do all this," said the Winston Middle School eighth-grade student.

Brad Bonovich's father, Scott Bonovich, is an anesthesia supervisor at GBMC. He observed a typical day for his father, including an operation to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

"It's like a balloon," Brad, 12, in blue surgical scrubs, said, explaining the aneurysm.

No, he added, he wasn't bothered by the gushing blood.

At the end of the day, two weary children with name tags were walking out of the Bell Atlantic building downtown with Gloria Craig, who works there as a data base clerk. Her granddaughter, Shanay McMillan, 9, and her niece, Monee Trusty, 8, spent the day touring the building and learning how phones work.

"We learned about wires," Shanay said.

After eight hours at the phone company, the girls had the bottom line in mind, Ms. Craig said: "They asked if they were going to get paid, since they were here all day."

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