If it were not for a DeKalb County youth jobs program, 22-year-old Jasmine Ellis, of Decatur, said she might be working in a department store just earning a paycheck.
Instead, Ellis works with seniors at Sunrise Senior Living Center in Decatur.
“Nursing is my passion,” Ellis said. “Being able to engage with the seniors …is something I always enjoy.
“I can just be myself, go to work and actually feel passionate about the job and not just going to work for a paycheck,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ 25-hour-a-week, $8-an-hour job is funded through DeKalb County’s annual Youth Summer Employment Training Program.
DeKalb Workforce Development (DWD) runs the eight-week program designed to give youth the opportunity to explore careers in various fields.
Through the program, youth work in nonprofit, public and private organizations and businesses such as DeKalb County Parks and Recreation, Sunrise Assisted Living Center and Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church.
At the assisted living center, Ellis helps with coordinating such activities as bingo, word search games, artwork and trips to grocery stores.
Her job is “making sure [residents] always have something to do so that they are not idle or bored,” said Ellis, who has been working at the center for two weeks. “You want to keep them busy at all times.”
Ellis, who has also worked with the county’s Board of Education and Board of Health, recently graduated from Georgia Perimeter College with an associate of science degree in psychology.
She plans to attend Clayton State University and pursue a nursing degree.
For Ellis, who has worked with DWD since she was a 17-year-old Miller Grove High School student, one advantage of the program is that is it provides participants “the opportunity to pick something that is beneficial to you in the long run.”
“You have the opportunity to choose something that interesting to you and may be beneficial to you…versus working at a department store where it might not be something you really want to do,” Ellis said.
The program, funded by $400,000 from the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), provides jobs for approximately 200 youth.
“This is a great opportunity for young people to get prepared for the workplace,” said Denise Funk, library supervisor at Flat Shoals Library. “These youth will not be as nervous as others who are entering the workplace for the first time because they receive so much structure and preparation through this program. I think it is a wonderful program and terrific opportunity.”
India Westbrook, 18, a recent graduate of Redan High School, said her summer job working with DeKalb County TV is her “first real job” other than baby-sitting.
“I do pretty much everything, but my main assignments are to write scripts for our production and, whenever I can, to do some videography as well as look over people that are doing editing so I can get more experience,” said Westbrook, who is planning to attend the University of West Georgia to major in broadcast journalism.
“Hopefully, one day, if I’m good enough I can build my way to becoming an anchor.”
This is Westbrook’s second summer working with DCTV through the youth jobs program.
“I love the fact that I can get a backstage pass before I actually go into the field so I know the ins and outs of my career,” Westbrook said.
Her summer job allows her to “be able to gain more experience so I’ll know what I’m getting myself into and how to handle things once I start my career,” Westbrook said.
“When I do get into a bigger place I will be more advanced than the other [candidate],” she said.