AAWGT: Making a difference in our community!
Green Summer Works, an educational/ employment–focused summer program for local teens from lower income families, has grown in the eight years since its inception. During the summer break, between 20 and 25 young people, ages 14 to 21, work at real jobs in various Anne Arundel venues and learn valuable lessons about work ethic, professional behavior, and financial literacy (including budget planning). The program is supervised by Julie Snyder, Special Assistant to the CEO of the Community Action Agency, and the experienced community members she has enlisted. During a summer 2017 site visit, teen Interns and Youth Leadership Trainees expressed appreciation for their summer enrichment.
Almost half of the participants each year are returnees from previous summers and all of the Youth Leadership Trainees have previously served as interns. This continuity enhances the program’s focus and helps Ms. Snyder in her recruiting efforts. Finding young people who can make the most of GSW’s golden opportunities is an ongoing activity. She enlists school personnel and other resources in the community to locate candidates, but recommendations by program participants to friends and family members also prompt others to apply.
Before an applicant is accepted, the young person, accompanied by a parent or guardian, must pass an interview, in which Ms. Snyder assesses his or her suitability for the challenge of seven weeks of hard, young adult-level work. A beneficiary of this partially word-of-mouth recruiting method is first year intern Ibrahim Drame. The Annapolis High junior, recently returned to this area after his mother’s death, heard about the program from an older brother and applied. As a counselor at School on Water, a camp serving low income children aged 5 to 13, he is grateful to be a respected part of the community he thought he had left.
Many of these summer jobs require physical as well as moral strength and endurance. One two-year GSW veteran, Brea Snyder, takes a bus from her Pasadena neighborhood at 5:46 to arrive by 7:20 at School on Water. There she supervises her charges through a challenging, ever-changing schedule of activities, including boating, nature walks and field trips. The North County senior has plotted a path toward eventual certification as a nurse practitioner. She was attracted to the program by an older Northeast HS student, Katie Lovill, who has enjoyed the taxing labor of identifying and taming invasive species at the County’s Arlington Echo facility during several of her five GSW summers. Now with the rank of Program Administrator, she remembers being inspired by YLTs in her early days in the program.
Elijah Bob, an Annapolis High graduate, has spent two active summers, one at Chesapeake Children’s Camp and this year at School on Water, testing his strength and leadership skills in preparation for upcoming service in the U.S. Air Force, which will lead, eventually, to a degree in engineering.
In the program’s early days, most employers willing to hire GSW participants were landscape-related governmental or private enterprises or not-for-profit-camps, hence the name, GREEN Summer Works. In the past two years, Ms. Snyder has sought to enlist a wider range of opportunities for her trainees. Her efforts are meeting with success as the program’s reputation gains traction. This summer, Esther Kim, an incoming Towson University freshman and aspiring nurse, feels she’s exploring her calling in her job as a paid intern at Anne Arundel Medical Center’s volunteer service center.
Summer earnings for participants range from the newest intern’s modest but meaningful $1,728 (for an average of four seven-hour days each week) to just over $3,600 for YLTs, who must devote an extra week’s time to planning and preparation. Most earnings are earmarked by participants for college savings. The art/science of saving and frugal, smart spending are recurring topics of the required training each Friday. At these weekly sessions, students explore life skills such as business etiquette, emotional resilience, and workforce preparation, as well as financial literacy. They also receive homework assignments ranging from devising a budget based on a realistic low-middle income salary to composing their own entries for the annual GSW Yearbook.
Every year, one Friday is devoted to touring a college within easy driving distance. Two years ago, an excursion to UMBC encouraged then-rising high school senior Andy Yeh to pursue his interest in biology at the Baltimore campus. This year, in his fourth GSW summer, Andy reports to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater. He’s enthusiastic about this opportunity to advance toward the career of his dreams.
In addition to exploring job opportunities and recruiting trainees, business partners, and donors, Ms. Snyder has experimented with varied venues for Friday training. In 2016, some Green Summer Works sessions were held in the rural Galesville Community Center. In contrast, a 2017 Friday morning found the youthful participants occupying alderman’s chairs in the City of Annapolis Council Chambers! (Council was not in session.) She is proud of the fact that eight public high schools are represented in the 2017 roster. Halfway through its eighth season, Green Summer Works represents an increasingly important resource for low income students in the county. Statistics compiled by Ms. Snyder and the agency verify that.
AWGT, Green Summer Works cannot apply to us for a grant again until 2019. In the interim, our members can enjoy the satisfaction of having invested wisely – and follow with interest GSW’s ongoing progress.
We’re pleased to let you know what’s happening in AAWGT over the summer. Although the grants have been awarded for the year, our work continues. All committees meet during the summer, either to review what they’ve been doing and make recommendations for changes and improvements or to plan new events and activities. And while the Steering Committee doesn’t hold its regular monthly meetings in July and August, it met in late June for an annual retreat. The 25-member Committee is composed of officers, chairs, and assistant chairs of committees and functions as AAWGT’s “board.” We came together to take stock of where we are now and how we can move into our second decade with the right goals and the woman-power to accomplish them.
Working with a highly skilled facilitator, we completed a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to identify internal and external factors that are favorable or unfavorable to AAWGT as it continues to pursue its three goals of invest, inform, and inspire. The Steering Committee decided on five priorities to pursue over the next 12-18 months.
As always, we would be delighted to hear your ideas about these priorities and would welcome your being in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also will be calling on members to help achieve them!
Linda Eggbeer, President
Betsy Chotin, Vice-President and President-Elect
Full Circle News:
The Power of One ... Multiplied by Many
Join Us For Our Annual Grants Showcase
Put Tuesday, September 19, 6:00-8:00 PM, on your calendars for the annual Grants Showcase at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Annapolis. This evening provides a wonderful opportunity to understand the real meaning of AAWGT grant making. Our 2016 grantees will be there to talk about what their organizations have been able to accomplish with our money and we will introduce our 2017 grantees. Come and invite your friends to learn about the outstanding non-profits that are working to improve the quality of life for women and families in Anne Arundel.
Moving Forward Thanks to Light House Shelter
Marsha moved into The Light House in February of 2017 with her 16-month-old daughter and 12-year-old son. She had lost her entire support system since her daughter was born—her mother passed away, her partner developed terminal cancer, and she lost her job. This left Marsha feeling very alone and scrambling for options on where to live and how to support herself.
She tried living with friends and in homeless shelters. Her two kids, especially her son, had a very hard time. She says, “We didn’t really accomplish anything, there was no help with moving forward. We were just there. My son had no one to talk to and the environments weren’t healthy for kids.”
Desperately trying to find a better life for her family, Marsha came to The Light House. “Almost as soon as I walked through the door, I was getting help to take steps towards receiving health and support benefits, doing job searches, getting the ball rolling on transitional housing, and even pursuing my dream of going back to school,” she says.
The Family Assistance Program at The Light House provides support for homeless parents and children that includes case management; employment assistance, child care, and transportation; direct financial assistance for medical needs; school support for children
Marsha’s case manager encouraged her to go back to school and helped with applications and scholarships. She began attending Anne Arundel Community College at the end of June 2017 to earn a two-year Business Management Associate degree. She has been set up with a laptop and all her books. Marsha says she knows it’s hard getting an education with young kids and that “it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m grateful that I finally have a chance to do it.”
The Light House has also helped her son and daughter. Her son is signed up for summer camp and she says that “he absolutely loves it here, he gets to come to the shelter after camp or school and people smile at him, joke with him and have positive interactions. He really needs activities and consistency.” She says that since moving into The Light House his grades have improved and he’s on the honor roll again Marsha’s case manager is at the final stage of getting her and her family into transitional housing and should be finalizing it by end of July. Marsha is eager to work hard and can’t wait to start her new career path after graduating with her Associate degree. The Light House gave her all the resources she needed to find a better path and she believes,“I’m not just moving on now...I’m moving forward.”