200 at-risk youth complete jobs program around St. Louis

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by Elizabeth Eisele/ KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on August 17, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 17 at 7:09 PM

(KMOV.com) -- A summer jobs program that employed at-risk teens throughout St. Louis has ended on a high note.

Julia Lewis spent Saturday morning with her fellow STL Youth Jobs participants celebrating the end of the program. Lewis said she has a special plan with the money she earned.

“The cash we’re getting,” Lewis said, “I’m actually saving to get up my tuition for college.”

Lewis was one of 200 participants that gathered with the program sponsors including Mers Goodwill, the Incarnate Word Foundation and the City of St. Louis.

“We were able to employ 200 youth this summer,” said Michael Fitzgerald with the Incarnate Word Foundation, “At well over 65 job sites in the St. Louis community.”

The program picked two neighborhood clusters in St. Louis, four in north St. Louis plus Gravois Park, Dutchtown and Tower Grove East with each area hand-picked for their high youth crime and unemployment rates.

“Kids need opportunities to work for a lot of reasons,” Fitzgerald said, “Self esteem, keep them out of trouble, build their resume.”

Bob Puricelli with Gene Slay’s Boy’s Club said the program is successful.

“They are motivated. They are working,” Puricelli said, “They’re not perfect. None of us are perfect. It’s working.”

To celebrate their success, the teens received Sweetie Pie’s restaurant and a raffle for an iPad, gift cards and Cardinals tickets.

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