August 4, 2017
Zadren Hill had been looking for summer job opportunities when he learned about YWCA Central Alabama’ CREW (Creating Responsible, Educated, Working teens) program. Although he was excited by the possibilities, he had no idea the impact it would have on his future.
“It helped me find my foundation,” said Zadren, who will begin his sophomore year at Woodlawn High School next week. “It was an amazing experience.”
Zadren was among 28 students from nine area high schools who completed the seven-week program, which allows teens to gain valuable work experience, as well as personal and professional development. The participants learned what it takes to be good employees, toured college campuses, practiced their interview skills and felt the satisfaction of earning a paycheck.
“This program encouraged him a whole lot and I appreciate it to the utmost,” said Vonquette Thomas, Zadren’s mother. “It wasn’t only about the money for him, it helped him build a work ethic. He has it in him to succeed.”
The teens served on work teams with Birmingham Public Library’s Central Branch, Denmark Properties, Grace Works at Grace Episcopal Church, Jones Valley Teaching Farm, The Nature Conservancy in Alabama, the Norwood Master Gardening program. They also worked on landscaping and culinary teams at the YWCA’s Family Resource Center in Woodlawn.
The students learned from motivational speakers, explored the difference between healthy and abusive relationships, and visited the Negro Southern League Museum, Sloss Furnaces, and the Jefferson County Courthouse. They also toured Alabama A&M, Auburn University, Jefferson State Community College, Miles College, UAB, University of North Alabama and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
During the group’s recent graduation ceremony, Zadren shared a poem he had written about how his CREW experience helped bring some of the uncertainty in his life into focus. It read in part:
He was always told to keep looking up in the dark but he never saw stars.
Then several sources of hope grabbed hands with him, leading him down a pathway of fulfillment and discovery.
During the journey he was exposed to enrichment, opportunity,
unity in diversity, acceptance, and most importantly, love.
The YW is grateful to the program’s generous sponsors, including the Estelle S. Campbell Charitable Foundation, Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, PNC, Protective Life, Walmart and Wells Fargo.
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