For some teenagers, the summer months spent away from school can involve family vacations, summer camp or additional schooling. However, for others, the summer months can be a time when tough decisions are made that can ultimately determine their future.
Several boys in Georgia experienced those decisions when they started to get approached by gang members. This is a common tale for many young men in certain neighborhoods. However, these four boys decided to go against statistics and make a proactive choice: get a job.
Last week, Dylik, Dennis, Deion and Jalen, four boys between the ages of 13 and 14, approached Zsa Zsa Heard, head of the LaGrange Housing Authority, looking for jobs. When they told her that they wanted to stay out of gangs, she hired them on the spot, no questions asked.
This is not the first time Heard had been approached by the boys, whom she says live on the housing authority property. Last winter, around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, the boys approached Heard and asked if there was any work they could help with. Heard paired them with a maintenance worker who taught them carpentry skills.
Now, the boys have worked in a community garden picking vegetables, tending to the community’s chicken coop or passing out mail and other deliveries. They have shown a passion and ability to do what needs to be done.
When it comes to payment, each boy has a prepaid card that Heard puts money onto after they’ve completed a chore.
Heard says the will always have a place to work when they need it and they will be added to a teen leadership and mentorship program.
"If they feel that they’re valuable, and if we show them how important they are, then we don’t risk losing them,” Heard said. "I don’t want them to seek the love and attention from the negative. I want them to find their value in other things."
The work the boys have done has already started to mold them for the future. One of the boys has already expressed in interest in working with livestock as a career.
(Photo: Zsa Zsa Heard via Facebook)