Local students earn experience through New Horizons
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 13:24

New Horizons offers volunteer, paid positions

by Ben Boehl

alt    Like many community groups, the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. (DRC) tries to help out with neighborhood cleanups. Most of its events are spearheaded by volunteers, but this summer, the DRC got some paid help.

    The DRC partnered up with New Horizons (NH), a private program through the Y of Central Maryland. NH has previously offered its program in Baltimore City, but this is the first year that NH has entered into Baltimore County.
    James Johnson of the Y of Central Maryland said the first year in Dundalk was a success and he plans for the program to return next summer.
    “It was a pilot program. It is going to be a bigger force next year,” Johnson said.
    NH provides academic and paid job training to 26 students, whom Johnson said start off the day with a class room setting from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Johnson said that students can also earn high school credits that they might have missed during the school year.
    Then there is time in which NH works on youth enrichment. Activities include training students how to write a résumé.
    The day concludes with students going to work in the community from noon to 4 p.m.
    “We’re trying to keep them from loss of learning [with the traditional summer break from school] and give them a chance to make money,” Johnson said.
    While most of the students were from Patapsco and Dundalk high schools, Johnson said he did recruit some students from Chesapeake and Sparrows Point high schools.
    The program lasts for eight weeks and a student must be at least 14 years old and in high school.
    “I went out and did the recruiting,” Johnson added.
    “I called anyone who expressed interest from the high schools and I also recruited some displaced students.”
    The next step was finding work for the students. Johnson called up local businesses to see if they needed a helping hand.
    “I had to find employers for the students, and I was able to contact six community partners,” Johnson said, including Dunmanway Apartments, Turk’s Cleaners and the DRC.
    In mid-July, NH students joined Jacqueline Murray of the DRC as they painted a storm drain image on the sidewalk at the boat ramp at the end of Inverton Road.
    “The image (that was painted on the sidewalk) is intended to get people thinking about what goes down the drain and what’s living on the other side,” Murray said in an e-mail.
    The NH students swept up around the Dundalk Village Shopping Center a day before the 4th of July parade.
    Leah Bunck of the DRC said that she has appreciated the extra help from the students.
    “This is the first year we have had the students from New Horizons with us, and they have done a lot,” Bunck said. “We are going to miss them.”
    The NH students finished up their summer at the DRC by planting 23 plants in the Dundalk Village Shopping Center and held a car wash at the North Point Government Center — with all proceeds going to the St. Helena Community Building after a TV was stolen out of the facility.          
     The DRC was able to raise over $100 to help buy the St. Helena building a new television.
    Shirley Gregory, president of the St. Helena Neighborhood Association, was very grateful for the donation and added that NH students have added stencils to a local drain and cleaned up around the new St. Helena dog park.
    “They are really great kids. They have helped out a lot in just St. Helena and I’m sure they have done work at other places,” Gregory said.
    One of those NH students is Walter Foster.
    A senior at Patapsco High School, Foster said he has enjoyed the summer because of the work experience he has received and the money he was paid for his efforts.
    “We have learned a lot and have helped the community,” Foster said.