By Tracy Correa
FRESNO - Representatives from PG&E, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, local business partners and elected officials today (March 26) kicked off this year’s newly-expanded PG&E’s Summer Jobs Program that will provide more jobs for local teens.
This summer, even more teens in Fresno County will learn career-building skills and get the chance to earn a paycheck through the program, a partnership that began last year with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County.
PG&E has committed $310,000 for summer jobs for young people ages 15 to 18 in Fresno County – up from the $200,000 that funded the pilot program here last year.
With the additional funding, more than 250 Fresno County youth will be provided career-building skills and 100 of them will receive six-week paid summer jobs. Additionally, PG&E is adding the program in Kern and Sacramento counties, with public announcements scheduled in Bakersfield and Sacramento later this week.
PG&E steps up commitment
For a second year, “PG&E has stepped up,” Diane Carbray, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County, told those gathered at today’s packed-house kickoff event.
Carbray thanked PG&E for its investment noting that twice as many young people will learn the necessary skills required to be successful employees. They’ll learn “about the discipline it takes to go to work and complete tasks on time,” she said.
PG&E’s Greg Pruett, senior vice president of corporate affairs, said he could not be more proud to be in Fresno announcing the program’s expansion after last year’s success. “It’s been such a success because of the folks in the black T-shirts,” he said pointing to the teens in the crowd. Students signed up for the program wore black T-shirts that read, “Empowering Youth Through Employment.”
Pruett, who grew up in Fresno, told the crowd that he benefitted from a jobs program many years ago. “I would credit that experience with the success I have had today,” he said.
One only needed to look at the number of elected officials in attendance at the launch celebration to realize the program’s importance. They included: Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, Fresno City Council Members Oliver Baines, Sal Quintero, Lee Brand, Clint Olivier and Paul Caprioglio and Clovis City Council Member Nathan Magsig.
Mims took the podium, stared out at the teens and said, “What you are going to learn are skills…To be a supervisor, a senior vice president at PG&E, a city council member.”
Financial burdens eased
Elizabeth Leon, a student who participated in the program last year, gave an emotional speech and talked about how her summer job helped ease her parents’ financial burden, especially for her mother who has diabetes. “How great it was to come home and say you can take a break, I will take care of you.”
Devin Riley and John Ware, both 15, both said they are eager at the chance to compete for paid summer jobs.
“I’d take anything,” said Ware, one of seven children being raised by a single mother.
“I hope to get a starter job,” said Riley, who said his dream is to be a computer programmer. “I know it’s a first job, so I will do anything.”
Dora Westerlund, president and CEO of the Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber, said she is looking forward to having one of the teens placed in her office this summer for paid employment.
“This is a great opportunity for them and for us,” she said.
Email Tracy Correa at firstname.lastname@example.org