EAST ORANGE, NJ — With summer more than halfway done, East Orange Mayor Ted Green said it has been the Summer Work Employment Program’s biggest season to date. The program, which operates out of the Mayor’s Office of Employment, seeks summer jobs for eligible teens and young adults in East Orange.
“What we did this year is, we looked at the number of individuals that were employed last year and we thought we could do better,” said Green on Saturday, July 27, at his first Community Cookout. “We believe it’s very important for our young people to have job experience during the summer and work with different companies. Last year, we had 300 participants and we wanted to up that.”
Green said he informed the Mayor’s Office of Employment that he wanted to significantly expand the Summer Work Employment Program and increase the number of participants for 2019, which was accomplished through the efforts of Director Ladonna Johns, career counselor Sandrea Gregory and others.
“I had a goal that I set this year, to try to have 500 of our East Orange youth employed,” said Green. “We didn’t reach the 500. We were close to 400. We’re very happy about that and we saw plenty of businesses in the city of East Orange hire young people, and right here in City Hall, where we took in some interns to create that job experience of working in city government, because we know how important it is for our young people to be a part of what we do every day.”
Johns and Gregory were unavailable for comment about the program, which is scheduled to end this month; however, Green said his reason for being advocating the program is that he knows firsthand how important a young person’s first job can be to future success in life.
“My first job that I ever had was in the city of East Orange,” Green said. “My second job I had was in the city of East Orange. I can honestly and frankly say that all my jobs were really here in the city of East Orange and I’m very proud to be a product of what we call the ‘SWEP’ program here in the city of East Orange.”
Green’s said similar remarks about the program when he addressed participants during the kickoff at Cicely Tyson School on Friday, July 6, 2018.
“Here’s a young man who is standing here as your mayor, as the 14th mayor of the city of East Orange, and my first summer job here in the city of East Orange under the SWEP program, I started off sweeping on Brighton Avenue,” said Green on Friday, July 6, 2018, to an audience of 200 to 300 city youths signing up to participate in the program. “I used to work on Brighton Avenue and I started off actually sweeping and cleaning buildings. The reason we make those points is that all of you have a great opportunity. On Monday, all of you will be starting working, but the point is that you will be representing the city of East Orange and you have to ride with that.”
Last year, Green urged local youth to take advantage of the opportunity to get a job through the Summer Work Employment Program. He also advised them to always put their best foot forward, regardless of where they are assigned to work because they are representing both themselves and East Orange.
Green’s remarks this year regarding the program were similar.
“I think all of them did a great job this year,” said Green on Saturday, July 27. “They gave our young people throughout the city an opportunity to be a part of what we do every day. We’re going to do some bigger and better things, but we know how important it is for our young people to be off the streets, to have a job experience during the summer, so that way, when they go back to school during this regular school year, they have something to talk about. They worked in City Hall in the Finance Department, in the Mayor’s Office, they worked in our law department, we have them in taxation, we have them over in the recreation department.
“So they have an experience to talk about and, hopefully, through those experiences, they will want to become a part of what we call government. And as you know, we’re providing good government. We’re continuing to push this charge that East Orange is ‘One city, one community and one goal and that’s progress,’ so our progress is to make sure that we nurture our young people.’
Green said the only challenge to the Summer Work Employment Program’s ongoing success is to continue its upward trajectory. But he said that’s really a good problem to have.
The Mayor’s Office of Employment “did a great job, but guess what? We know we did good this year, but next year, we’re going to be great,” Green said. “We put some money in their pockets to economically help their parents, we help them, we hope they experience learning how to save money, how to go to the bank. They get a debit card. Our young people are very excited when they get that first paycheck because it gives them a sense of independence and hopefully that take that independence and do well with it. So I’m very happy. This summer has been great.”
For more information about the Mayor’s Office of Employment and the Summer Work Employment Program, call 973-677-8914, ext. 5127, or visit the location at 90 Halsted St.