Hundreds of youth, young adults and their parents attended an exhibition of local employers and social service organizations April 28.
The inaugural City Heights Youth Resource and Job Fair, held at the Mid City Gymnasium, was hosted by the Collaboration to Keep City Heights Youth Safe. The collaboration is a network of community organizations and businesses that promotes safe, productive activities for City Heights teens.
City Heights Teen Center Director Diago Fuller brought the idea to the collaboration.
“We felt that this would be a great cause…to promote students going to school in their neighborhood, students getting hired in their neighborhood and students being able to walk home in their neighborhood,” Fuller said.
Summer jobs can keep teens engaged and out of trouble when school is out. In City Heights, they also help relieve stress at home. With high unemployment and a large immigrant population, many families in the neighborhood must rely on income earned by teenage sons and daughters. According to Mid-City CAN, the 2010 unemployment rate in City Heights was nearly double the rate countywide at 20.5 percent.
With such high demand and employers who are just beginning to pick up the pieces after an economic downturn, organizers said they weren’t sure they’d have much to offer.
The group rounded up 43 businesses and organizations with openings for youth. Opportunities included jobs with large retailers, paid training programs, high school education completion programs and volunteer internships.
Youth like Leo Gourdin found the event worthwhile because of the variety of opportunities it offered in one place. Other youth, like Crawford High School graduate and current San Diego State University student Rodgers, were discouraged by the considerable amount of volunteer opportunities compared to the few paying opportunities.
“There are not enough jobs in the neighborhood, but that the same time, this is a new start,” Fuller said. “Hopefully this is the beginning.”