More Employers Needed for C.A.R.E. Program

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COLUMBIA - The Career Awareness Related Experience (C.A.R.E.) program has 160 spots for students to hold summer jobs, but the program needs more employers to spread those students over a wider variety of work sites.

C.A.R.E. has given Columbia youth ages 14-18 real-world work experience, skills training, and mentorship since 1982. Students are placed at real job sites and paid minimum wage through the city, as a means of teaching them how to budget, professional skills, and keeping them on the right track.

"Really, the thing that I want to try to do is to get more employers involved," said Ron Schmidt, C.A.R.E supervisor. "The more work sites we have the better. Instead of placing four kids at a place, maybe we can only put two their and kind of spread the wealth a little bit."

Spreading the wealth would also provide C.A.R.E. members with more one-on-one interaction with their employers.

Micki Marrero owns the New York Deli with her husband Ramon.  The couple has worked with C.A.R.E. since 2006.

Micki Marrero believes that personal attention is key for making a C.A.R.E. experience successful.

"One of the things that I do with them is I make it my business to spend time with them, to mentor them, to talk with them," Marrero said. "I not only give them training, I get involved with their personal life to an extent."

So much so that the Marrero's have helped guide students to getting their diploma and even hired former C.A.R.E. students full-time after they have completed the program.

"Those are the success stories that we really want to keep track of and really tout," Schmidt said. "It's one thing to have somebody their and you supervise them and mentor them and somebody else pays their hourly rate. But when you're willing to pick that up, you know, after the summer is over or the next summer, those are the stories we like to hear and those are the things that we want to work towards, eventually."

The current summer session for the program began June 10 and runs through August 2.

C.A.R.E. will take applications for next summer January 7, 2014 - February 1, 2014.

Businesses interested in working with the C.A.R.E. can contact the office year-round.