2 summer experiences for Hamilton youth: One helps teens find jobs; the other stops ‘summer slide’

A local pastor is offering two programs this summer to help Hamilton youth push forward their education and job-readiness.

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The Pastor Shaq Job & Mentoring Program is entering its third year, and will run June 15 through July 27. It offers job training and mentoring for 35 city youths ages 13-18. The program recently earned a 501(c) 3 charitable status.

“We have just a few spaces available for kids who may be interested in signing up,” said Pastor Shaquila Mathews, who runs the program.

The students are taught the importance of community, giving back, work ethic, community pride, college readiness and vocational-school options, she said.

“It’s for kids to be the best them,” she said, “and giving them information, exposing them to opportunities, and that’s through college visits and mentorships so they have as much exposure as possible to make decisions to be the best them.”

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The program will convene from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday during the period at Truth & Life Community Church, 450 S. Front St. Breakfast and lunch will be served. To sign someone up, email pastorshaq@gmail.com or call 513-899-6181.

She also is hoping more people will volunteer to help with the program, and thanked local businesses and residents for their support of the program.

“Over 90 percent of our kids who have come through the program, they’re either working in McDonald’s and Kroger, or different retail stores,” she said. “The kids who graduated high school, they’re off to college.”

She believes the program gave some students “the extra push” to pursue college. Even after the summer program ends, “I continue to keep up with them during the school year. We make sure everybody’s grades are good, make sure people are progressing and doing well.”

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Meanwhile, the second program, called Books & Barbershop, encourages students during the summer to read so they don’t experience the “summer slide” that students have when they get away from reading between school years.

The program, featuring free snacks and books they can take home, is assisted by the Lane Libraries’ book mobile, 17Strong micro-grants, Butler County United Way and H.Y.P.E. (Hamilton Young People Empowered), with children making arts and crafts such as glow-in-the-dark slime.

Phillips Barbershop will offer a free haircut to each participant.

The next Books & Barbershop event will be June 21 from 3 to p.m. at the barbershop, 714 Central Ave. Registration is not necessary.

“You don’t want the kids to lose skills in the summer,” Mathews said. “Statistics have shown that kids who read at least 30 minutes a day, when they come back to school, they’re still able to stay on task with testing and learning, and be ready to go.”

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