WEYMOUTH — The Weymouth Teen Center celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Youth Jobs Program Monday with a visit from local and state officials.
The program, founded in 2007, uses a yearly state grant to hire teenagers in the town at different town offices, the senior center and other jobs, as well as teach them career skills like putting together a resume, filling out job applications, managing their money, interviewing for a position and dressing professionally.
“Many of you kids started your first savings account, you learned that you needed money to buy things and you realized the value of money,” State Representative James Murphy told a group of current and former participants in the program. “When you graduate the program, you’re going to do great things, and I hope that’s because of the things you’ve learned.”
Kathy Collins, head of the Teen Center, explained that when the program started, teens were hired for five hours a week, earning $10 per hour, but now many work eight hours per week at $11 per hour.
“The grant started out years ago, when there were a lot of cuts, and we were just looking for help in the Teen Center,” Collins said. “But soon we said, let’s focus on the kids, and give them the money.”
Multiple former participants spoke about how important the program was in their growth, both by teaching them how to navigate the workforce and by giving them to connections to future jobs working for the city or even interning in Murphy’s office at the State House.
“When I started a few years ago, I was just doing odd jobs for five hours a week,” said Kevin Flaherty, now 21. “Without (the program), I don’t know that I’d have the confidence to be where I am now.”
The celebration was also attended by State Senator Patrick O’Connor and Mayor Robert Hedlund, both of whom have helped Murphy advocate for the program at the state level. Murphy also presented the center with a printer for the students to use to print resumes and other job materials.
“You kids are the leaders of tomorrow, so we want to make sure you have the tools to learn,” Murphy told them. “I hope that someday when I move on from politics, one of you steps into my shoes.”