14-year-old Treyvon Watson spent the summer cleaning-up and beautifying different parts of Paterson.
“We went to this big garden. It was really infested with weeds. And we cut it down,” said Watson, who attends the Passaic County Technical Institute, on Monday morning at the Community Charter School of Paterson. “We went to City Hall and cleaned around there too.”
Nijana Cooper, 16, who also attends Passaic County Technical Institute, said she helped to build a greenhouse on Rosa Parks Boulevard and revitalized a garden at the Great Falls Youth Center.
“We planted at School 5. We painted the flower beds and then we planted flowers,” said Cooper.
Watson and Cooper were among 30 students to get summer jobs through the Junior YouthBuild program run by the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC). Bob Guarasci, head of the NJCDC, said it’s a five-week program for young people between the ages of 14 and 17.
“They work 30 hours a week,” said Guarasci. Each youngster earns $10 per hour, he said. “They’ll each earn $1,500 or so.”
Guarasci said the young people develop a work ethic through the program.
“It’s pretty good,” said Watson of the hourly rate. Young people often use the funds to do back-to-school shopping.
The program received $60,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program via the municipal government.
“We’re going to continue to invest in you because you are beautifying the city of Paterson,” said mayor Andre Sayegh, who presented the nonprofit with a check, to the young people on Monday morning.
“Thank you for this experience,” Cooper told Sayegh and Guarasci.