GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — A nearly $100,000 investment in hiring high school students is paying big dividends in Goldsboro.
The city received about 300 applications and interviewed 200 candidates who qualified for about 80 summer jobs.
Paid internships include positions with the city and its public housing authority, local non-profits, lawyers, Wayne Community College, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
“There are many social and economic programs that you can have in your community, but this here is hitting the heart of what your community is. When you start with your youth, they’re the future. That’s an investment that no amount of money truly can put on,” community relations director Shycole Simpson-Carter said.
“Our goal is to enrich the lives of our youth as well as giving back to our community. What we want to do is give these kids an opportunity to show people that ‘yeah I may be a statistic but I’m going to be a statistic of a successful, modest, hard-working marketable leader for the city of Goldsboro’.”
Erica Hobbs, a rising senior at Eastern Wayne County High School, got hired as an assistant to a property manager for the Housing Authority of the City of Goldsboro.
However, she wanted to do more for children at the Lincoln Apartments, so she started a day camp. They have daily art projects, games, and on Wednesday toured the Paramount Theatre.
“I feel like it’s always a great idea to keep kids and our youth in the community in something positive and something that’s benefiting to them. There’s a lot of things that they could get caught up in that wouldn’t benefit for their future,” Hobbs said.
“This is a great job experience, rather than working at a normal (summer job). Fast food restaurant or a clothing store, it’s really a different opportunity. It’s great,” she said.
Hobbs said she hopes every teen can have the same opportunity have summer work, particularly in a program like Goldsboro’s.
“I’m giving back to the community as well as gaining skills also,” she added.
City manager Scott Stevens said he wanted to include younger high school students in the employment initiative.
“Where can a 14- or 15-year-old go and have an office setting or a work setting, and be paid? It’s hard to get a job at 16, 17, and 18, so offering it to younger youth and putting them in positions where they can gain experience (is a good thing),” Stevens said.
“A lot of these kids don’t have parents that push them as hard, or don’t have the opportunities that some other parents can provide, and I think that’s been the goal of the council and has worked in our program — having kids that may or may not have had the opportunities but have given them a place to have a different opportunity to experience government, or private industry, or the whole process of being in the workforce for a period of time.”
The community relations director said she reached out to Raleigh and Winston-Salem about their summer youth jobs programs, and recently heard from some people in Fayetteville about starting something similar there.
Simpson-Carter said participants will continue to contribute to the community with what they’ve learned. She said some will go to neighboring areas but still benefit Goldsboro.
“There’s a lot of good reasons, economically and socially, to have these types of community programs, but mainly, it’s just improving a child’s self-esteem. Just giving them that light of knowing that ‘I can do something better, that my current situation, whether it’s good or bad, does not have to be my end’,” she said.
“I can be something successful. I can instill something in me, allow someone to teach me or (move) into me something that’s going to change not just my life, but generations. One life will touch 10, 20 lives. When you impact that kid’s life, you impact that house, their current household, and their future household, which in turn brings down the level of crime. It’s so many things that will benefit the city of Goldsboro and our neighboring communities,” Simpson-Carter added.
Wednesday was the last day of work for about half of the interns, as a second set of students starts work Monday.
This final first-session week will wrap with a trip to the state legislature and tour of the Capitol.