PORTLAND - A summer jobs program aimed at teens who are minorities and come from low income families kicked off its fourth year in the greater Portland area.
Summer Works is a public-private partnership geared at helping economically disadvantaged teens real work experience.
De'Ontria McFerson is part of the program and began her first day working at a Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith’s office. She's one of 50 paid interns in the county offices.
She's writing up her bio, which will be posted on the county's web site and thinking about how much she can help her mother.
“She's been laid off there and I’ve been happy I got this job so I can help my mom pay bills," she said.
Andrew McGough is executive director of "Work Systems" a low profile agency in Portland. It’s funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and helps people find work.
Summer Works is part of Work Systems. McGough says the jobs deliver much more than money.
“Being able to problem solve as a group, to be a member of the team, to understand how to manage your money, to understand what it means to have a service mentality, customer relations, those kinds of things,” he said.
Landing a job anytime of the year is not easy for many teens.
An Oregon employment department report found the number of teens holding jobs fell 46 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2011.
The Summer Works program is full for this summer. Teens began their first day on the job in Multnomah County, the City of Portland, Washington County and elsewhere.