Teamsters Local 237, representing employees of government agencies, municipalities, libraries and schools, welcomed its first crop of participants from the Summer Youth Employment Program [SYEP] through the not-for-profit Road to Success this year.
And on Wednesday, nine high school and college students will be honored for their hard work over the summer at the union’s headquarters located at 216 West 14th St., at 12:30 p.m.
“Thursday is their last day so we are making them a luncheon to wish them well,” said Phyllis Safran, a spokeswoman for Local 237. “We want to learn if the experience was what they hoped for and what they were surprised to learn. Mostly we want to congratulate them for participating with us. We were so happy to have them.”
SYEP works with small businesses, schools and not-for-profits like Road to Success to provide young adults 14 to 24 opportunities for career exploration and paid work experience.
“Road to Success runs after school programs, summer programs and Summer Youth Employment Programs,” said Natalie Cuchel, the co-founder and board member of the not-for-profit. “Road to Success mentors young people and we meet with them every single week to help them with job readiness, resumes, financial literacy and more.”
As a leader in youth development, Road to Success partners with small businesses to help to place one to four students with a firm for SYEP.
“We had a bunch of kids that we had no placement for,” said Cuchel, whose not-for-profit serves 2,500 kids and young adults. “I called up Greg [Floyd], who I worked with before, and he said, sure, I’ll take about nine or 10.”
Local 237 President Greg Floyd started working with SYEP students last month, assigning the young people ranging in age from 16 to 20, to different departments.
“The kids said his site was engaging,” said Cuchel. “They felt the organization went above and beyond to mentor them.”
Students got to interview different employees at Local 237 about their careers, they went to an interview workshop, learned the history of the union and shadowed attorneys to see how business agents represented members and designed their own not-for-profit, according to Bertha Aiken, the director of Education Training at the union.
Students worked in the education department, the accounting division, legal services, the retiree department and the benefits department, according to Aiken.
“One of the young men wants to design glasses as his living because he really is into fashion,” said Cuchel. “Greg was able to get the guy that runs his Vision Benefits Fund to take him to where the glasses are fabricated and show him how they get made.”
Chris Davis, 20, a sophomore at the New York City College of Technology pursuing a degree in Vision Care Technology, was thrilled about the opportunity that Floyd helped to facilitate at the Vision Benefits Fund.
“I was really excited,” said Davis, a Brooklyn native. “I learned about frames more than anything else. Sone frames are specialized for different diseases like glaucoma and cataracts. So I learned that people with certain diseases need certain prescriptions and exams.”
Davis also learned the business side of his potential future career.
“I learned about insurance and health benefits, and that will definitely help me with the business side of things,” said Davis.
The sophomore hopes that Local 237 will be a mainstay with SYEP and wants to work with the union again next summer.
“This made me realize we do have a bright future out there with these young kids and adults that want to do great things,” said Aiken.