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Local at-risk youth finish program

City teaches teens skills ranging from punctuality to customer service

Posted: August 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Duane Harte, Parks, Recreation and Community Services commissioner, left, presents Nancy Vigil, 15, with a certificate for completing the Youth Employment Services program at the Santa Clarita Activities Center on Thursday.



Sixty-three Santa Clarita Valley teens who are low-income, at-risk, special needs or special education have completed a city program that helped them find and keep employment this summer — with the help of several local businesses.

The Youth Employment Services program teaches the teens skills ranging from punctuality and customer service to operating a cash register. Teens who participated in the program were honored in a ceremony at the Santa Clarita Activities Center this week.

“Since 1991, over 1,000 teens participated in the YES program,” said Cynthia Llerenas, human resources supervisor for the city of Santa Clarita.

Teens took skill-building workshops and were mentored by their employers throughout the eight-week program, working an average of 15 hours each week.

This year, 93 percent of teens who participated in the program made it through successfully, Llerenas said.

Ken Wiseman, chief executive officer and managing partner for AMS Fulfillment, a warehouse management, order management and fulfillment services company based in Valencia, has hired 11 teens through the program since he started working with the city in 2010.

Wiseman said he helps students set measurable goals that will help them advance.

“You identify a goal, you commit and you lay it out to make it happen,” he said.

Wiseman said he reaches out to teenagers because he knows the effects of a bad economy.

“We know, in a bad economy, that’s one of the groups that gets hit the hardest,” Wiseman said.

Tori Burgh, 17, who is going to be a senior at Saugus High School this year, said working at Camp Clarita as a counselor through the YES program has given her valuable experience.

“I’m really appreciative that I got into it and got a job through it,” Burgh said.

A teen who worked at the Santa Clarita Public Library during the summer said he enjoyed working with kids during their summer reading programs and was surprised by some of the books the children were reading.

Garett Watzig, who is going to be a senior at Valencia High School, said one of the most valuable lessons he learned was punctuality.

“Don’t be late,” Watzig said. “Don’t ever be late.”



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