State provides summer jobs for Westfield youths

Alex LaValley is welcomed by Westfield TJ Maxx store manager Holly Brzoska on his first day of work. (Photo by Aleksandra Bich)

WESTFIELD – Local youths are participating in subsidized work programs that provide them and local businesses real life work experience and work readiness along with training support and supervision.
The mission of these programs is to provide young workers with education, life skills and leadership development training along with job training and experience through environment based work crews and apprenticeships with local businesses. Most youths work independently while a few receive job coaching assistance. Businesses from Westfield, Agawam, Southwick and West Springfield are benefiting from this program.  Students work in businesses that run the gamut from retail to churches.
“They are able to do work around the church that wouldn’t get done otherwise,” said Mark Colton from the New Life Christian Center in Westfield. “They are able to get experience that they would not have had previously. It’s a win-win situation for the both of us.”
“We are learning a lot,” said Prithibi Dargee, one of the youth workers at the New Life Christian Center. “We are gaining work experience. Sometimes the work is hard, but we don’t care. We still like it.”
Staff from the National Alliance for Mental Illness relies heavily on these young workers for labeling pamphlets, cleaning the office, and for helping to put together their monthly newsletter.
Cathy Rogers of the Alliance highly recommends them.
“We couldn’t do it without the students,” she said.

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