YWCA Central Alabama Hosts Summer CREW Work Program for Area Teens

June 27, 2012

Summer is in full swing in YWoodlawn and the housing staff and AmeriCorps members at the Family Resource Center are working cooperatively with the Woodlawn Foundation to host the Summer CREW program that is providing work training and enrichment opportunities for our YWoodlawn teens age 14-18.

The Summer CREW program has placed 19 teenagers entering 9th - 12th grades at two worksites. Fifteen students will work within the Woodlawn community and four students will travel to the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) campsite at Bluff Park. UCP CREW members will be providing support for campers at the UCP summer camp program and Woodlawn CREW members will be working on landscaping projects, painting, neighborhood clean-up and odd jobs. 

The program arose out of the need to provide meaningful activity for the teenagers in Woodlawn during the summer months. Although younger siblings often have summer alternatives like camp, older youth typically have few to no positive choices.

"By being able to offer Summer CREW to almost 20 of our Woodlawn teenagers this year, we are not only providing a valuable service to the community as a whole, but we are providing an invaluable real world experience for each participant," said YWCA Chief Housing Officer Jennifer Clarke.

In addition to work, there is also an enrichment component to this eight-week program. The Woodlawn CREW finished a weeklong orientation that included sessions on the importance of education, dress codes, work ethic, commitment, listening skills, responsibility, team building exercises, and interview tips/preparation skill-building. 

Orientation is followed by seven additional summer weeks with on-the-job training and experience for both UCP and Woodlawn CREW members Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week and concludes each Friday with an enrichment activity day that will include trips to American Village, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Airport, college campuses, large scale construction sites, etc.  A cash stipend is provided each Friday afternoon based on hours of participation Tuesday-Thursday.

"Whether they are involved in team building exercises, mowing a lawn, painting a doorway or visiting a college campus, every single teen is being given training, mentorship, opportunity and access that is difficult to come by without such a program.  This is what it's all about and this is where change begins-with our kids," Clarke added.

When asked why they were interested in working with the CREW program, the most frequent responses from participants were to earn money, learn basic work skills and learn about responsibility.

Marysha Eaton, a sophomore at John Carroll Catholic High School, had a different answer. "I want to be a part of the change that's happening in Woodlawn, I want to be able to look back and tell my children and grandchildren that I helped make Woodlawn great again."

"It's hot and it's a lot of hard labor but it will all be worth it in the end," Eaton added.

The YW would like to extend a very special thank you to Kemp Management Solutions, PNC Foundation, Protective Life and the Woodlawn Foundation and all of our generous donors for their continued support of the YW and those served by our programs.  If you would like to support the youth programs at the YWCA, click here.