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Summer jobs, lifetime lessons

Jul 5, 2011 6:39pm
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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston, Mass.) - After a spate of weekend shootings that left four Bostonians dead and nine wounded, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and downtown business leaders Tuesday celebrated some much better numbers: 9,700 summer jobs made available through a joint city-business-hospital-university program.

One example -- maybe not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear "minimum wage summer job" -- is a position David Rodriguez of East Boston landed as an $8-a-hour instructor-in-training at the Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown, on Pier Four at the old Navy Yard. It's a job he is certain is going to be a lot more than just fun on the water.

"Some of these kids are going to learn earn a lot about leadership, sportsmanship too,'' said Rodriguez, who has been an instructor at Piers Park in East Boston and is a student at Fenway High. "Especially here in Boston, a lot of underprivileged kids aren't able to attend summer camps.''

Knowing first aid and knowing how to handle a boat are two things that might fit into what, for now, is David's dream job, "a doctor's position in the military setting , Navy or Coast Guard. There are things that you can learn from" as a sailing teacher "and take into any job anywhere.''

Fellow instructor in training Ian Hay said he sees enormous lasting value in "the responsibility factor -- being grown up and being able to be trustworthy.'' Kayla McLaughlin of Roslindale, a junior at Boston Latin, said, "You have to be aware of your surroundings. You're taking care of a bunch of small kids, and you have to watch over them.''

Claire McKinnon of West Roxbury, a junior at Mount Alvernia High, said, "I'm interested in being a nurse, so it's always interesting here when we do first-aid things for possible emergency situations.''

Those four young people are among 12 who got their jobs at Courageous Sailing through the MLK Scholars program http://www.johnhancock.com/jhcs/cmrl/MLK_Scholars/non-profits.html, a joint venture of John Hancock Financial Services, The Boston Globe, Boston University and Partners HealthCare. A total of 675 young people from Boston are getting seven-week jobs at non-profit organizations this summer through MLK Scholars, said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The jobs are supplemented by Friday job-skills and interviewing training at BU and other educational enrichment.

"It's been a very difficult year for summer jobs," Menino said, because of the fitful economic recovery and slow job growth in the economy at large. "I'm determined to get to 10,000 in the next couple of weeks,'' the mayor said, adding that he is hopeful some state funding may become available for more summer jobs from a supplement budget approved by the Legislature.

After a weekend-long spasm of violence in Dorchester, Mattapan, and other city neighborhoods, Menino said he wants to find good opportunities for young people and ways for them "to make the right choices, not the wrong choices" this summer, and hopes to find more jobs. "Give people responsibility that they have to be at work in the morning, they have to do their jobs and get paid,'' Menino said.

That resonates with David Rodriguez at Courageous Sailing Center as he trains to teach a new generation of city kids to sail. "It's as much of a sport as it is an experience, and it's such a pleasure to be able to do it -- and get paid for it,'' Rodriguez said.

With videographer David Jacobs.

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