Job skills. Experience. A paycheck.
Add a free laptop, backpack, school supplies and a check for $100 to the rewards for nearly 100 Fresno County Boys and Girls Club members who took part in the PG&E Summer Jobs program.
The six-week program were feted by a roomful of dignitaries, mentors, and family members at an Aug. 2 graduation ceremony at the Zimmerman Boys and Girls Club.
The reaction was priceless.
“I was really excited. I didn’t know we were going to get these. This is amazing,” said Jonathan Verduzco, a 15-year-old incoming junior at Sanger High School who interned at the Sanger Parks and Recreation Department. “I was thinking, ‘Score!’ A laptop, backpack, school supplies.”
“I couldn’t afford to buy her a laptop. This is really something, especially since she can use it in college,” said an ecstatic Natalie Sánchez, whose daughter will be a senior at Sanger High.
Lilia Sánchez worked at Taco Bell.
More than 180 applicants ranging in age from 15 to 18 were interviewed for the 100 jobs at places like fast-food restaurants and city government. Fifty-one sites offered opportunities for the young adults to work and through added internships, approximately 300 kids received on-the-job training.
Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, strongly encouraged the students to attend college.
“This is the third-consecutive year that I’ve been able to host an intern. I’ve only been in office for 2½ years, and we have hosted 16 interns,” said Soria.
Prior to her 2000 graduation from Lindsay High School, Soria interned through a summer youth employment opportunity in Tulare County.
“I had the opportunity to intern with the city of Lindsay in their public works department. It was the summer of my sophomore year. In thinking back to my experience, I believe that a seed was planted then. I got a chance to work in local government; 28 years later, I’m an elected official in the fifth-largest city (in California),” added Soria.
Mauricio Lamas, 17, worked in the Sanger Chamber of Commerce. After learning how the city works, Lamas said he’s now an official junior ambassador to the Sanger Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m from the Sanger Boys and Girls Club along with 28 other interns,” said Lamas, an incoming senior at Sanger High.
“We (with other interns) assisted with typical office work, such as filing important documents, answering phone calls and community local business outreach. This was my first time working in a genuine office. This internship program has opened many doors for me.”
Lamas hopes to obtain a college degree in electrical engineering and perhaps one day work for PG&E.
There are 21 chapters in the Fresno, Bakersfield and Sacramento Boys and Girls Clubs serving more than 6,500 young adults, according to president Diane Carbray.
“The main thing is they get their first job, they learn from mentors, business people. They know how to show up on time, how to work hard, but maybe most of all, they learn teamwork,” said Carbray, “And the laptops is such a huge benefit at the end.”