YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

SYEP Helping Teens and Business Across the City

The Y continues to strive to be a center for local teens/young adults to learn and develop important life skills. With the addition of new staff and the implementation of new programming, we are happy to say that our efforts to become a primary center for this important group are paying off. As we quickly approach the end of the summer, we near the completion of our first year of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). In order to get a better sense of how SYEP is working, we have asked several participants and work-sites to share their thoughts and experience with SYEP thus far.

“I have learned and enhanced skills, like communicating with people, dealing with tougher situations much better and appropriately. I think the SYEP program is important because it provides young adults with experience in the job world. Having a job at a young age helps prepare you for the future and the real world. This year is when I start applying for colleges and it really helps your chances of getting into a certain college when you write that you’ve had a job somewhere. I think SYEP is good for kids around my age who are looking for some experience in the job world and want to do something productive in the summer. I am grateful for the YM&YWHA ‘s placement as my job at the front desk has greatly improved my communication skills. I feel I can handle working with different people. I was even offered a placement for the fall -to work with children with special needs while receiving a college credit and a stipend!  ” -Luis Medina, SYEP participant

“I found out about SYEP from family members and friends. Many of my friends have been chosen to be part of this program in the previous years, and have recommended me to join it as well so I decided to try it out this year. I have learned so much from the SYEP program, one of many things was how to work with spread sheets, event pro, adobe and other software that I would need to use in the future. I have learned how to be patient and work with other people. SYEP is important because it helps young teens and adults get a feeling of what it is like to work, and opens the door to many opportunities. My experience has been amazing, I have learned to work with others as a team. I met many amazing people and felt like we were a big family. SYEP was the greatest program I have been a part of. It was an honor having the opportunity to do this, and I would love to be able to be a part of this until I can.”  -Kenia Martinez, SYEP participant

“My friends were talking about getting a job for the summer, and my friend stumbled upon the SYEP program. My mother’s friend who is a guidance counselor knew about the program and suggested I sign up for it. I joined because I wanted to be financially independent. Some of the things I have been working on I have worked on in school, but SYEP has helped work on some of the details within this work. I have learned social skills, networking, and I have been getting involved with my community for the first time. I think the SYEP program is important because although this isn’t the job i see for myself in the future, it acts as an eye opener for a direction that I would want to go. I plan to sign up for the SYEP program next year. If you’re not in it, you should sign up!” -Mia Lashley, SYEP participant 

“I believe the Summer Youth Employment Program is essential to the development of our youth. It gives them an experience that will leave a lasting impression and ultimately help shape their future goals.  By providing these young people with employment, it allows them to learn necessary skills, and thereby instilling confidence in their ability to contribute to society. Just as this program is helpful to the youth, it is also helpful to companies and institutions that might want to but have no formal structure to integrate youth into its day to day business. SYEP has provided El Museo del Barrio with numerous benefits. The participants have greatly contributed to our daily functions in duties ranging from reception and clerical work to marketing and event planning. They bring an invigorating enthusiasm and can work independently. On a more practical level, SYEP provides the museum with a selection of motivated youth whom have chosen to dedicate their summer to expanding their skill sets.”  –Erica Torres, Worksite Supervisor, El Museo del Barrio (http://www.elmuseo.org/)

“I feel the SYEP program is a wonderful opportunity for young people to gain exposure to a work environment, in order to acquire some of the knowledge and skills they will need later in life as they enter the workforce. The young men and women that worked this summer in the Beacon senior camp program not only gained valuable work experience, but also learned people skills and an understanding of how to interact with and relate to senior citizens. They all worked very hard in the program in many areas; including set up of chairs and tables for activities; running senior activities such as Bingo; set up, serving and clean up of food and beverages; etc. They provided much needed assistance and were a truly valuable resource. Seniors from various community centers remarked to me ” how helpful, respectful, and polite, the young people were!” It is my hope that this program will be able to continue in the future.”  –Deena Spindler, Worksite Supervisor, Beacon Senior Camp Program  

“A program monitor from SYEP stopped by to see if our office wanted to participate. We have worked with many college interns and felt that SYEP would be a good option for summer help. I believe SYEP provides valuable skills and opportunities to young people in the community. It has helped further our work with families in East Harlem by ensuring we have staffing for programs. Mia helped ensure our kids enjoyed themselves at our annual picnic in Central Park. Her youthful manner encouraged kids and parents alike to participate. EHACE would love to continue our relationship with SYEP next year.” -Elizabeth Drackett, Worksite Supervisor, East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence

“I knew the Y had prepared a proposal to administer the SYEP program for the Washington Heights area but it wasn’t until I saw the participants here at the Y working in various programs, that I figured that they would be valuable in assisting the Y’s accounting/finance department. Straight from the Washington Heights community and participants of the Y’s SYEP program, we recruited Jessica and Jonathan.  The SYEP program is important because it gives young people the opportunity to integrate themselves in the working world. The working world is completely different from the school world. It is one of much interaction with your co-workers and getting from point A to point B is not as “common sense” as one might have previously thought. You now as a worker, in this case the SYEP participants, come face to face with how other co-workers plan to accomplish a particular task, that the method or way to achieve the task by others might be completely different from how you see things. In turn, this will light a bulb in each participant’s head as he/she will come to the realization that there are other skills that are necessary to prosper in the work world, other than those learned in school, and, as a result, the work experience will hone the skills of the participants, if they want things done in the real world.  We are undergoing an accounting computer conversion and an external financial audit and the SYEP participants were instrumental in making both possible. They reconciled bank accounts, assisted in setting-up and maintaining the program income receivable and posted accounting journal entries. It was not all work for the participants; they received training in accounting, debits and credits, the theory of the reconciling accounts and acquired MS Excels skills. The experience has been wonderful. Beyond the SYEP period, the Y has invited the participants to work part-time each day after they attend to college classes. It is refreshing and hopeful that there is a new generation that is willing to take on the responsibilities of the future and better things for their community.” ​ Robert Alvira, Worksite Supervisor, Financial Department of the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood

About the Y
Established in 1917, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood (the Y) is Northern Manhattan’s premier Jewish community center — serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse constituency — improving the quality of life for people of all ages through critical social services and innovative programs in health, wellness, education, and social justice, while promoting diversity and inclusion, and caring for those in need.

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