WorkinCT: Hartford teens gain valuable experience with CRT summer employment program

HARTFORD -- Every day, 15-year-old Cameryn Wilson shows up to work at the Community Renewal Team in Hartford ready to put in an eight hour day in the planning department.

“I work with the fundraising of the company, so I’m contacting different companies to see if they donate to non-profit organizations,” said Cameryn Wilson.

Cameryn is just one of nearly a hundred Hartford teens and young adults who are busy earning money through the Community Renewal Team Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program. It partners with other community-based organizations to give students experience in things like media, customer service and fundraising. Students are paid minimum wage and work 120 hours during the summer.

“I just want to take away the new work skills that I learned, and basically helping out every day, whenever I can,” said Wilson.

She has been helping out. She participated in CRT’s Feed the Children event that gave out food and daily essentials to 800 Hartford families. She was also part of Tee Off with Women, which helped to raise money for domestic violence victims.

“I always feel great helping out other people,” said Wilson.

Cynthia Baisden is the program manager. She says this summer’s program had to be scaled back because of state budget cuts. Initially 600 students applied from the Greater Hartford area, but because of the cuts the program had to limit opportunities to teens from the City of Hartford.

“When you have to go back and tell a youth, I’m sorry because of the budget cuts there’s no money, it’s very difficult to do that because some students couldn’t understand well why not. So it was very difficult to do that,” said Baisden.

With financial help from the City of Hartford and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, CRT was able to secure some jobs, ones that it hopes benefit the student employees.

“Not only is it affording them the opportunity to have work experience, it’s also providing them with pay that they are going to need for uniforms, to pay their cell phone bills or things of that sort,” said Baisden.

Cameryn says that paycheck is definitely a benefit, but so is learning how to answer emails and calls, navigate Microsoft Office and be in a professional environment.

“I do want to become a pediatrician, so being able to communicate with different people is definitely an important skill to have,” she said.