By Michael Freeman
Published in the Williamson County Sun, July 13, 2014
Ruben Martinez III had been looking for a month and a half for a summer job when his teacher suggested signing up with The Georgetown Project’s summer youth employment program.
It was the last day to sign up. The 17-year-old Georgetown High School student jumped at the opportunity, and the next week was in a meeting to set up where he could work. He, along with fellow student Adrianna Benford, got jobs at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. It was the first summer job for either one of them.
“I think doing this every summer would be fun,” Ms. Benford said. “It gives me something to do, and it’s good experience.”
Summer jobs thanks to Seeds of Strength
The students’ jobs are being funded thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Seeds of Strength organization given earlier this year. The group aids local non-profits, and its funds for The Georgetown Project will support the employment program.
“We pay the students through that grant,” said Erica McMahon, program director with The Georgetown Project. “We financially support them.”
Seven students applied with The Georgetown Project to work at either the animal shelter, summer camps, the Palace Theatre or Shannon Allar Hair Salon. By working with the organizations, The Georgetown Project will pay the students’ salaries with the grant, and the organizations will receive summer workers.
This marks the second year The Georgetown Project has offered the summer job program. Twice as many students enrolled for it this year than last year, many of whom are working in their first jobs.
“It’s also probably the first time they’ll be earning money,” said Leslie Janca, executive director of The Georgetown Project.
The Georgetown Project employees also help the students interview and prepare for the part-time jobs.
Students are evaluated throughout their time at the organization, and they’re required to write an essay about their experience afterward.
“I love it,” Mr. Martinez said. “Everyone’s really nice to me and helpful because I have a lot of questions.”
Mr. Martinez has been sorting paperwork, answering phones and uploading photographs to the animal shelter’s website, while Ms. Benford has been cleaning crates and moving animals.
“It is so much harder than a lot of people would think it is,” Mr. Martinez said. “I now know how hard it is.”
A roof over their heads
The Seeds of Strength money already paid for a new roof for the non-profit’s NEST, a haven for homeless youth. The building houses up to eight children, ages 0 through 17, for up to three weeks before they are placed in more stable households.
The NEST’s roof hadn’t been replaced since the home was built, more than 20 years ago, Ms. McMahon said. The roof wasn’t leaking, but it was bubbling in places and shingles had fallen off.
“It literally put a roof over the heads of Georgetown youth that needed to be there,” Ms. McMahon said of the grant.
The Georgetown Project, located at 1001 South Ash Street, serves more than 1,000 kids every year through enrichment, homelessness and nutrition programs.