From Client to Colleague: Tia’s story
Do you remember your first job? For most, it was at a retail store or in a restaurant chain cleaning dishes. Many people’s first job experiences are a blur. But for some, first jobs become a lasting memory.
Tia is a Children’s Home and Aid employee who works as an administrative assistant in our Englewood program office. But her first job with Children’s Home & Aid came when she was a high school student, and joined our One Summer Chicago “Green Corps” youth jobs program.
Through the One Summer Chicago program, Children’s Home & Aid is working to help close Chicago’s youth opportunity gap and provide opportunities for youth in all Chicago communities. Through experiences like Tia’s, youth are given the opportunity to earn and learn while engaging in activities that will help them build life skills.
“I got involved with the GreenCorps when a teacher recommended it to me,” Tia recalls. “It was a fun way to meet people and get experience in the working world. Plus, I got to keep the bike I worked on all summer!”
As part of One Summer Chicago and the GreenCorps program, Tia worked in a community garden, learned how to fix bicycles, and worked at a Pizza Hut before school started back up. She received job preparedness training and the opportunity to participate in resume workshops.
Michel Quezada oversees the One Summer Chicago for Children’s Home & Aid.
“One Summer Chicago provides our participants with the opportunity to gain employability skills,” says Michel. “Our program mentors guide participants in improving communication, advocating for themselves, being responsible and reliable, identifying strengths and encouraging them to reach their full potential in the workplace. This summer we were able to employ 145 participants between the ages of 14-21. Youth are able to use this 6-week experience to leverage opportunities outside of summer employment for more permanent positions.”
A big goal of the program is to connect youth with new experiences. Through the program, Tia had experiences with her peers in the group including going to Six Flags and rock climbing. “I had never been out in nature like that before, “ Tia says. “It was really fun to be outdoors with my peers and experience that.”
One Summer Chicago mentors to each youth to build lasting connections and help support the youth in any capacity.
“My mentor Tina supported me through school and with jobs,” said Tia. “I still keep in touch with her today.”
After graduating Harper High School in 2017, Tia came to work for Children’s Home & Aid as a receptionist in our Englewood office. Tia enjoys her colleagues and likes being part of the organization that was so helpful to her as a young teen. Thinking about the future, Tia said “I want to move up in the organization and hope to become a youth mentor.”
The impact our programs can have on young people like Tia would not be possible without the generosity of our donors and program funders. Your continued support allows us to support the youth and families in the communities we serve. Thank you for helping provide memorable “first job” summer experiences for our youth.