It started out last year as an idea from the new mayor of Savannah, Eddie Deloach. He wanted young people to have more opportunities for summer employment. Thus, the Summer 500 program was established.
It’s considered a success and this year, Mayor Deloach along with other city and business leaders is hoping for even more employers and even more students to e involved. “So far we’ve got 100 businesses and 70 students already signed up,” said Deloach. “If somebody will stand still I’m gonna ask them to hire a kid.”
Deloach also says this year, kids who have been in some kind of trouble (even with the law) can still sign up through the Summer 500 program website and the city will work to find an employer who will give that young person a chance at employment. “We’re not trying to pick and choose,” he said. “i want everybody to have an opportunity and it doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, you’ve got a chance just as well as anybody else, if we get enough jobs, everybody works.”
Shahla Mack, a Savannah Arts High School senior participated in the program last year. ” I thought it was a really great opportunity to start working because it gives you a taste of a real job getting up early in the morning,” she told us. ” I learned about getting my first paycheck and making deposits – having a debit card it was the first time I had a debit card 52:26
Her classmate, Ian Castellano told me he worked at the Landings Golf course. “I got up at five in the morning, got there at six and worked from six until three,” he told us.
Castellano said he learned a lot about working with people from different cultures and said for the first time, he found himself on his own, with no friends to rely on. He said it made him more aware of what it would be like to go to college and start a job in a new city for example. “And I had to learn how to deal with managers, that was another thing,” he told me. (I asked him for some advice. Ian said he followed the orders of the one highest up the chain.)
In terms of the program, Savannah Alderman Carol Bell said ” this the largest public private partnership this community has ever been involved in and we’re very proud of it..”
Samuel McCachern from Thomas & Hutton is the chair of the Savannah Chamber this year. He called on other employers to participate. “So this is an opportunity to mentor this is an opportunity to teach., ” he said. “Employers and the community all have a vested interest in making sure what our youth and workforce in the future are not only engaged but trained ..”
This year, the program will be open to all those 16 through their senior year, which means giving opportunities again to students like Mack and Costellano. “I’d say do it, get a good taste of what it’s like on a real job because a lot of kids don’t get those opportunities,” Mack told us.
“I’d definitely recommend getting a summer job and I would definitely recommend the Summer 500 program,” says Costellano.
Interested businesses and young people an sign up at the city’s website.