BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 4, 2015) — Paige Knechtly, 19, is working this summer as an administrative assistant at Clermont Senior Services. The UC sophomore, a graduate of Batavia High School, has worked “brilliantly,” said her boss, Community Services Director Bill DeHass. Her responsibilities range from working the front desk to delivering Meals on Wheels to checking bus pickups for accuracy. “I have a really busy schedule,” Paige says, and it’s one that she enjoys.
Paige is one of almost 100 young people enrolled and working this year in the Summer Youth Employment Program, operated through Clermont County Job and Family Services and Easter Seals TriState. That compares to 35 youth last year. The increase, says JFS Director Judy Eschmann, is due to old-fashioned word of mouth, as well as publicity from last summer’s program.
“We started to promote the program earlier this year,” she said. “Every meeting that I went to, or my team went to, we talked up this program and how good it was for our youth.”
Every meeting and every newsletter and every social media post was an opportunity to enlist more kids and more employers. This year, 28 employers signed up. They included a mix of Clermont County departments and districts, several non-profits such as Senior Services and the Clermont Chamber of Commerce, and private employers including three McDonald’s, Cross Town Motors, Elks Run Golf Course and Neff Landscaping.
“School districts in particular stepped up, and used this opportunity to hire students from the district,” said Eschmann. Felicity-Franklin High School, which has a strong advocate in maintenance manager David Diesel, hired 17 students. Goshen schools hired five students; Batavia schools, three; West Clermont, six; Williamsburg schools, five; and Grant Career Center, four.
The program is open to young people ages 14-24. They are paid $10 an hour and work 40 hours a week. Funds come from the federal program Temporary Aid to Needy Families, so the employer does not actually pay the wages. For some young people, it’s their first job, and they must show good work habits: starting on time, being dependable, working hard. For many, the $400 a week paycheck can make a big difference in their lives. “The pay has helped me a lot with college,” said Paige, who is majoring in health promotion and education.
“Paige has been great,” said Senior Services’ DeHass. “She’s been quick to catch on. I see two benefits to the program: We’re getting some great talent and assistance, and letting her see how our organization benefits the community. For the youth, they are around professionals and seeing what the work is like and what the future might hold for them when it comes to a career.”
As for the work itself, Paige says, “It’s been very eye-opening. It feels good to be able to help people. When I deliver Meals on Wheels, the customers know exactly who I am!”