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Youth program focuses on leadership, service

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
Seven volunteers. Check. Scrub brushes. Check. Graffiti remover. Check.
A small group of teenagers and adults spent three hours last week removing graffiti throughout the Salisbury area.
The teens were members of the Workforce Investment Act youth GED program.
The program is designed so that young people graduate or earn their GEDs and retain employment through adult mentoring, counseling, internships, leadership development and the like.
It is for people ages 16-21 and is a program offered under the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency Inc.
The volunteers, along with Sgt. J.J. Wilkerson, a Salisbury Police Department gang investigator, scouted areas and got to work scrubbing spray-painted graffiti off buildings.
The police department provided the cleaning supplies and the youth program provided the workers.
“After class, we go out and volunteer,” said Almond Miller, an employment counselor with the agency.
Miller said the teens are always volunteering in the community. They have recently volunteered with the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County and Rowan Helping Ministries.
Once students completed their day’s academic work Thursday, they scrubbed walls.
“They had fun,” Miller said.
She said it was also an opportunity for one of the students to get some sage advice from Wilkerson.
Miller explained that the student volunteer wants to design weapons.
Wilkerson spoke to him about the type of education he’d need and career goals.
April is when the program focuses more on volunteering, even though students take on projects throughout the year.
Certain months are designated for specific skills. In February, the agency focuses more on job shadowing.
The group members plan to continue their efforts.
Miller said the group was excited to help and eager to volunteer again.
She said getting the students in the community is all a part of leadership development, which is something the agency advocates.
“Sometimes you have to be of service to get service in order to be a service leader. That’s what we are trying to do ó build them up to be leaders,” Miller said.
The agency staff is now gearing up for their Summer Youth Employment program, where young people participate in a five-week work-and-academic enrichment program.
For more information about the programs offered through the Workforce Investment Act youth program, visit the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency Inc. Web site at www.srcaa.com.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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