Summer work program gives young adults life experience

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

For the past four years young people in the community have found a temporary job at the city of Picayune through a grant funded summer work program.

City Operations Manager Harvey Miller said over the course of those four years 24 young adults have benefited from the temporary work, which is funded through a Mississippi Department of Transportation grant.

Grants Administrator Christy Goss said the state funded grant provides $35,000 for the program. The city provides a match of $7,000.

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Those funds provide work for 12 young adults aged 16 to 25-years-old.

Miller said the program has implemented a change to ensure more young people are reached. Instead of allowing the same people to work in the program each year, they are only allowed to work two years in the program. This will give other young adults a chance to benefit from the program.

Since this program is offered during the summer months, it provides work to visiting college students so they can earning money that can be used for their continuing education, Miller said.

The program provides participants with more than just work, presentations allow young adults to hear from local professionals, such as doctors, school superintendents or emergency responders.

Miller said life skills are also shared with the participants, such as how to keep a checkbook.

Tours of a the Mississippi Department of Transportation site in Hattiesburg teach them about how bridges are made and how asphalt is used to maintain or create roads, Miller said.

When selecting participants for the program, city officials look for young people who would benefit the most.

Miller said he has received letters from previous participants thanking the city for allowing them to participate in the program, saying the opportunity made them feel special and put money in their pockets.

Most of the participants work full time in the departments of Public Works, Grounds and Beautification or with the water system. At times, they will clean out ditches, conduct weed eating, replace or straighten signs around the city or repaint fire hydrants.

Last year the group conducted work at the city’s various parks, including the walking track at J.P. Johnson Park, cleaning up at the park on East Canal Street and renovated Mildred Mitchell Park, Goss said.

Goss said this year they plan to put them to the task of landscaping areas in the city and planting live oaks to replace ones cut down recently. The city plans to plant about 20 eight to 10 foot tall trees within the city so future generations can enjoy them.

This year, a segment will feature Suzy Morris Wilson, who will teach the participants about etiquette, how to tie a tie and proper table manners.

Each year the city receives about 60 applications for the program, so there is typically a waiting list, Miller said.

For the $7,000 investment the city puts in, Miller said the city gets a lot of work done.

“It’s been good for the city because they work really hard,” Miller said. “The city of Picayune is proud of this program.”