For a few weeks earlier this summer, 14-year-old Sam Bonney and his brother, 15-year-old Jake, worked for the recreation department staining benches around the town’s government center, among other tasks. It wasn’t a full-time gig but it provided the boys with an opportunity to take home a few paychecks and earn some work experience not typically available to teens their age.
The boys’ mother, Heather, liked the setup because it was flexible and close to home. Recreation director John Taylor liked the arrangement because the brothers showed up on time and worked hard.
The labor didn’t require a dime of local property tax dollars, either.
Jake and Sam’s employment with the town was funded as part of the East Bay Community Action Program’s summer jobs program, which utilizes money from the Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island.
Chris Matteson, an EBCAP case manager for Barrington and East Providence, said the program is open to any Rhode Island resident between the ages of 14 and 24.
Mr. Matteson said about 250 East Bay residents went to work this year through the program. The process begins with the completion of a career testing tool that helps provide the agency with an idea of each individual applicant’s interest, said Mr. Matteson. An effort is then made to match these results with openings in communities.
Mr. Matteson said the program runs for six weeks though not all participants stay on their jobs for the entire schedule. Once employment wraps up, Mr. Matteson said participants are given access to career counseling such as résumé building and interview skills.
Outside of recreation, the Barrington Department of Public Works also received some free labor through the program. Director Alan Corvi said two local teens worked with the department this summer, including one who had a driver’s license and helped out with grounds work such as trimming grass; the other helped out with odds and ends work around the office.
Mr. Corvi said it was the town’s first year taking part in the program.
“It’s a little bit of help and it’s only a month but we’ll take free labor when free labor is available,” Mr. Corvi said.
“Both kids showed up on time, they’re here to learn and work and they’ve been very good. They’re local kids from town and they’re doing a very good job.”