Around three hundred kids from the area are a part of the Erin Hamlin summer youth employment program. We caught up with some of those kids to see how their summer of work is going.
Shauntel Grant is one of the twenty kids in the program that are working at the West Side Senior Center this summer.
“It’s boring over the summer in Utica, so you just need somethin to interest you and keep you goin all day," said Grant.
She said it gives her more benefits than just money.
“It keeps me out of a lot of trouble and stay away from a lot of drama," said Grant.
Some kids said they're learning to work with others.
“It’s fun, like co-workers, I guess. Everyone always says that you're not going to like your co-workers and that they're, like mean, but it’s ok," said Tori Aiken.
This is the second year that the west side senior center has played host to youth workers from the program.
“You always see some type of growth with the kids. When they first come in kinda like the dear in the head lights. They don’t know what to expect, they don’t know what’s going on," said West Side Senior Center director Dr. Paul Mickler.
The kids said once they get settled in they can soak up everything the program and the senior center has to offer.
“You learn a lot of lessons from the seniors that come in and out of here,” said Chevel Carroll,” they all talk to us. They always have conversations with us and tell us stories."
“It just teaches you how to treat other people and not like the way you treat everyone else around you. You gotta treat them more, like, nice and respectfully," said Aiken.
The kids are making minimum wage for their work at the center. The roughly three hundred other kids in the program are working at places across Oneida county, including the Utica zoo.