Jobs program offers real life lesson

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2002

There just doesn’t seem to be enough jobs to go around for Selma’s youth, which has left some parents in Selma feeling angry and upset.

The Selma City Summer Jobs Program, a program designed to help Selma’s youth find summer jobs, officially accepted 126 applicants this year out of a pool of 500.

The students will work with different areas of the city, including the police department, the mayor’s office and community action agencies.

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The program was funded through discretionary funds from City Council members, as well as from corporate donations and the city’s general fund. According to city sources, approximately $100,000 was used to fund the program.

On Monday, the program began its three-day orientation to gear the chosen students towards such things as finding a job, dressing for success, keeping a job and problem solving.

Native Selmian Phyllis Alston, the facilitator of the orientation, who also works as a public affairs officer in the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, told students that to keep a job they must be prepared to handle conflict and focus on such things as maintaining a healthy attitude.

“We are to teach students the most important things they need to know to not only get a job, but to also keep that job,” Alston said.

Velma Brewer, a corrections officer with the State Department of Corrections, who also helped to coordinate the orientation, said having jobs for students also helps to keep students out of trouble.

“If these students have jobs, then they are less likely to end up in my department,” Brewer said. “Those who don’t have jobs or lack education are the ones who usually end up in our jails.”

Dallas County High School student Jocqueline Chandler and Selma High School student Nyree Bennett, both of whom were chosen for the program, said they gained valuable experience from the orientation.

“I definitely learned a lot from being here,” Chandler said. “There are so many skills we have learned like how to deal with people, and how to do deal with real life situations on the job. We have also had a chance to interact with people from the city schools, which we normally don’t do.”

Said Bennett, “I think this finally brought me out of my shyness. It’s definitely been a worthwhile experience.”

Despite the praises for the program by many, some parents, whose children were not chosen, were left befuddled and bewildered.

Lawanna Lewis, one of the parents whose two children were not chosen for job positions, said she could not understand the process by which the applicants were selected.

Lewis said that she asked the director of the program, Darryl Thomas, for criteria on how the children were chosen. Lewis said Thomas told her that the children were randomly chosen.

“If my child wasn’t chosen based on some type of criteria, I could accept that, and be happy with that,” said Lewis. “But he said that they did not use any criteria.”

Said Lewis, “I am totally opposed to this type of program. It is not helping the kids in our area, who really deserve to be helped. I really think something needs to be done about this.”

Lewis added that other parents had similar complaints about the selection process.

Thomas, when asked if there were criteria for the program, told The Times-Journal that criteria did exist. However, he failed to fax the criteria to The Times-Journal as promised.

Selma Mayor James Perkins, when asked to comment on the program, said he was pleased with the program. However, he added, “I just wish we could have found jobs for all 500 of those applicants. Until we do that, I will not be satisfied.”