After graduating from the Academy for Business and Technology high school in Melvindale last month, J'Dale Douglas looked hard for a job but couldn't find one.
That is until he applied at the Trinity Community Development Center's Summer Youth Employment Program, which helped him and 171 other teens and young adults find jobs.
"I feel blessed right now," said Douglas, who is 18 and plans to join the Air Force.
On Friday, the newly employed youths gathered at Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, where they stood in line for ID card photos or sat in pews while completing forms for tax deductions and other job-related business.
The six-week program running July 9-Aug. 17, will place teens and young adults at 38 job sites, mostly in Detroit. Their jobs will have them working for judges in Wayne County Circuit Court and 36th District Court in Detroit, at law offices and for social service agencies.
They earn $7.50 an hour and work up to 20 hours a week. The majority of the youths are from the impoverished Brightmoor and Cody-Rouge neighborhoods on Detroit's west side, said the Rev. Jerome Warfield, the founder of the program, now in its sixth year.
"Eighty percent of kids in Detroit between 18 to 24 are unemployed," Warfield said. "That's huge. We want to put a dent in that."
About 600 young people applied for the summer program but only 172 were accepted, he said.
Kenneth Ogburn, a sophomore at Old Redford Academy High School, participated in the program last year. "It's a nice program," he said. "It keeps me and a lot of other teenagers out of trouble."
Since its beginning, the jobs program has relied on various private and government grants. This year, Marjorie Fisher, a philanthropist and the wife of the late Max Fisher, donated the $200,000 to fund it, Warfield said.
Dalph Watson, personnel director for the Detroit Police Department, said 20 young people will be working for the department, mostly as clerical workers and receptionists. They'll have an opportunity to do a ride along with police, too.
Watson said the extra help is needed because the city can't afford to hire more people.
"For us, it's an opportunity to show the youths what it's like to be in a professional environment," Watson said. They won't be "locking up bad guys, but they will be doing real work."
LaGale Rudolph, 48, of Detroit, who was at the church with her niece Miracle Rudolph, 15, praised the youth employment program.
She said it wasn't as hard to find a job when she was growing up. "Now, after the programs were cut, teenagers don't have many opportunities like this one," she said.
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