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Youth program connects Toledo youth to jobs

They YES Program provides job opportunities and job skills coaching year-round for Toledo youth ages 14 to 24.

TOLEDO, Ohio — More than 300 Toledo youth ages 14 to 24 will be getting paid and getting coached while on the job this summer.

"Connecting Kids to Food" is responsible for serving about 875,000 meals in the past year. 

The program is also connecting young people to jobs and job skills.

"You need to be on time and you need to have a good work ethic and that's true no matter what you are doing, so we feel as though it transfers to all aspects of our kids lives," Wendi Huntley, President of Connecting Kids to Meals said.

Huntley is an attorney who was called back to her hometown of Toledo to serve.

She believes the impact her organization has on so many in the community makes the work the kids will be doing this summer rewarding.

"Many of them have shared with us in the evaluation process that they didn't know so many kids were struggling like them, so for us it's important to expose them to that but also to show them the work they're doing and the solution we're bringing to the table," Huntley said.

This is all through Youth Enhancement Services, or YES, at Harbor, a mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider.

This year, the group surpassed its goal of placing at least 300 young workers between 14 and 24 into jobs.

"The key to helping young people stay successful is to keep them busy. So if the youth are doing jobs they enjoy, then they're less likely to do things they aren't supposed to be doing," Rachel Hannon, the Youth Grant Manager at Harbor said.

Hannon says it's great to see after a pandemic year where getting any type of job placement is difficult.

Through the program, kids are given some money to buy things they need for work like uniforms, and some parents also get things like gas cards to help get kids to work.

The workers are placed with employers around the community based on their interests and can work at restaurant chains and other meal services like the Believe Center and the Grace Community Center.

While all positions are full for summer employment through YES, people are still able to sign up for their year-round program and get started with classes.

Learn more about YES on the Harbor website.

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