by Genma Holmes, YourBlackWorld.com
Last month, $2.7 million in federal stimulus money was awarded to the Nashville Career Advancement Center. Partnering with Meharry Medical College and the Oasis Center, 600 jobs created for teens needed to be filled through the grant. A sign up sheet was passed around at the Oasis Center board meeting asking for volunteers. This sounded like such a unique event that I could not help but put my name down.
I imagined all the possibilities and the huge difference this venture would make in the lives of so many teens. An idle mind is the playground for the devil; I can hear my grandfather muttering. Daddy kept folks busy by wearing us out down with work. This was his quick fix for the long hot days of summer and it kept us out of trouble.
With Daddy's words in my head, I volunteered not knowing what to expect. Information about the job fair was sent to schools and the media, but we had no way of knowing how many teens would attend. We are going to be ready for the unexpected I was told by our fierce leader, Hal Cato. I sensed from his tone, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. The forecast was uncertain for the weekend and a first time job fair for teens had no room for the unknown.
Upon my arrival at Youth Opportunity Center @ 8:15am, I found the command center tent packed with teens. They came early and I sent up a prayer for the volunteers to get here soon. The job fair was scheduled from 10:00-3:00. By 9:00am, young people were everywhere. They were hungry for jobs. I looked outside and my heart skipped a beat and swelled with joy. As far as the eyes could see, folks were in line to snap up the ultimate teen prize, a summer job. It looked like an American Idol audition with kids from ages 14-19 wrapped around the building. How many jobs do we have, I questioned myself and everyone around me? After taking a second and third look outside, I wondered if we were "Jack" and the fast growing lines were going to become gigantic beanstalks.
Some of the vendors that participated at the unprecedented event were: Publix's, the Frist Center, BCN, Goodwill, Youth United, Metro Health Department, Hands on Nashville. Applications from Foot Locker, the Gap, Hobby Lobby, Aeropostle, Subway, Hibbet Sports, Sports Authority, Arby's, Shoe Carnival and a host of others were available for the teens to fill out and turn in. We even had a room filled with computers for writing resumes and several volunteers to assist. No details to finding a summer job were overlooked.