The University answered Toledo Mayor Mike Bell’s call to help teenagers find jobs and stay busy this summer.
UT Facilities and Construction offered summer jobs to 11 local teens working in Grounds and Environmental Services.“It’s hard for kids to find jobs, and this program was very beneficial as far as giving them a chance to actually do something during the summer,” said Tom Walker, a UT student studying special education who supervised some of the teens.
Seven of the teenagers worked with Grounds under Walker’s supervision; they did landscaping, including mulching and watering all the University’s new trees around campus. The four students that worked with Environmental Services cleaned classrooms, bulletin boards and other areas in University Hall and the Student Union under the supervision of Dianna Brick, manager with Building Services.
“The University was glad to provide these students the opportunity to experience our campus and a chance to earn money this summer,” said Arlene Fell, director of environmental services. “That’s the thing that I liked best about the program, that it gave them that opportunity.”
The students also gained valuable skills for the workplace, Walker said, adding that he made sure each of them knew to show up on time, follow orders and dress appropriately. They also were taught what to do if they needed to call off from work and how to decipher all of the tax deductions on a paycheck.
“Tom is a solid worker, but he’s doing this as a mentor and it’s been a good fit for him, too,” said Doug Collins, director of facilities maintenance and grounds. “He took the initiative. He does it because it’s the right thing to do, not because he’s paid to do it, and that’s refreshing.”
Walker said that one of his favorite things about the experience was getting to know the teenagers and being able to speak with them about their career goals. All had plans for higher education by the end of the summer, he said, and some even planned to attend UT.
“It was a blast working with them,” Walker said. “You had seven different kids with seven different backgrounds. They all brought something different to the table.”
With high teen unemployment rates and a stretched recreation budget, the employment of these 11 students is part of a larger plan by the Mayor’s Office to keep the city’s youth occupied during the summer. Bell met with Chuck Lehnert, UT vice president of administration, who oversees facilities and construction and helped to make this possible.
The University is interested in offering opportunities to Toledo teenagers in future summers.