June 19, 2009
Stimulus money funds summer job opportunities
Cortland Works Career Center receives $213,585 for youth jobs over the next two years
Cortland Works Career Center, which has for years helped students find work in the area, is using federal economic stimulus funds to create dozens of additional jobs this summer.
The agency is placing more students in jobs this summer than usual, because federal stimulus funding has given the agency more money, said Robin Sandwick, director of Cortland Works Career Center.
Some of the most common summer jobs students are placed in through this program are summer camp counselor, school facilities maintenance, nursing home or hospital food service, and store or restaurant employee.
Over 200 young people applied to the summer youth employment program, and 160 of them will be placed in summer jobs, Sandwick said. Last year, about 110 people were placed in jobs.
The agency places young people in jobs through two different funding sources: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds and Workforce Investment Act funds.
People need to be at 200 percent of the poverty level to qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding, and they need to be at 70 percent of the lower standard of living level and have a barrier to employment, such as pregnancy or dropping out of school to qualify for Workforce Investment Act funds, Sandwick said.
About 90 to 100 students will be placed in jobs through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is the same number as last year, Sandwick said. But using federal stimulus funding toward the Workforce Investment Act, the agency will place 60 young people in jobs through that funding source, compared to 20 last year.
Cortland Works Career Center received $213,585 to use over two years through the stimulus package and will probably spend half of the money on the summer program, Sandwick said.
The agency will spend over $200,000 on the program this summer through the two funding sources, Sandwick said. She said information on how much money the agency spent last year on the summer youth employment program was not readily available this morning.
The center has had a summer job placement program for more than 25 years. It assigns people between ages 14 and 24 to jobs for six to eight weeks and pays the students minimum wage for 20 to 40 hours a week, Sandwick said.
The program begins July 6. Counselors visit participants in their work places to teach them about work expectations and how to control the drama in their lives, said Diane Wheaton, youth program coordinator for Cortland Works Career Center.
As always, seasonal businesses, such as ice cream shops, are still employing young people for the summer.
Laura Hopkins, 18, a senior graduating from Homer High School, is working at Super Cream, an ice cream shop on Route 281 in Homer, for the fourth consecutive summer. She works with three other high school seniors, a sophomore and a college student.
Hopkins said she found the job by walking up to the window with her mother at the end of her freshman year of high school and talking to the manager, who offered her a job without even asking her to fill out an application.
Chelsea Brafman is spending her third consecutive summer in the sun as a lifeguard and will pick up extra hours at Dunkin’ Donuts, where she works during the school year.
Brafman, 17, a senior graduating from Cortland High School, lifeguards at Yaman Park and at Wickwire Pool in Suggett Park. On Thursday she sat with three other lifeguards putting together a puzzle at a table overlooking the beach at Yaman Park, because there were no swimmers on the wet, cloudy day. Other days the water is filled with kids, and she has to be more alert.
“It’s very enjoyable,” Brafman said. “It can be really easy. It can also be really stressful when it gets really busy.”
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