EO mayor inspires participants during summer jobs program kickoff

Photo by Chris Sykes
East Orange Mayor Ted Green, center, stands with an aide, right, and three young people participating in this year’s Summer Work Employment Program, thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Employment, the East Orange Chamber of Commerce and other county, state and federal programs.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green was the featured speaker at the kickoff for the city’s Summer Work Employment Program for eligible teens at Cicely Tyson School on Friday, July 6.

“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, to the audience of more than 200 city teens. “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.”

Green urged the teens to take advantage of the opportunity to get a summer job through the SWEP program and make the most of it. He also advised them to always put their best foot forward, regardless of where they get assigned as representatives of East Orange.

“You have to ride on being professional, once you hit whatever department you’re going to, in the city or outside of the city,” Green said. “It’s important for all of you who are repping the city of East Orange to show people, to show the world, that where you come from that you can rep your city in a positive and professional manner. And we look forward to all of you doing that, because when we represent the city that we live in, a city that we care about, we want folks to say good things about you once you leave that job.”

Green said the mission of the SWEP program is for employers to request their student employees again next year or possibly even offer them a job later.

“First impression is the best impression and I always say to folks, proper preparation brings proper performance,” said Green. “That means you have to be ready on Monday morning when you wake up and be ready to go out and show the world for the next six weeks of employment that you’re going to do your best and you’re going to be the best. We always look at our kings and queens that come from the city of East Orange … we know for a fact that, when you’re representing the city, you are going to do your best.”

Green said at least three of the eager young job seekers filling the seats in the CTS theater would be assigned to work in the Mayor’s Office in City Hall, so he expected to get to know them personally, but he also said he hoped to have the chance to meet them all at some, too. Finally, he reminded all of them to remember that, even though he didn’t start his first SWEP job working in City Hall, his experiences in the program helped him to get to where he is today and it can do the same for them.

Three of this year’s SWEP program participants, Michael Rodgers, 15, Shianne Robinson, 18, and Patrick Stoute, 17, said they believed Green’s words.

“I want the job because anybody can use some extra cash,” said Rodgers at the event. He is a first-time participant in the SWEP program who said he wants to be an engineer. “That just shows how far he came. He went from being a janitor to being the mayor. It really shows with a little hard work what somebody can become.”

Robinson agreed that Green’s message was very inspirational.

“I think his message is showing everybody who was here today that anybody can do it, because he was in that position at one point,” said Robinson on Friday, July 6. “And now he’s mayor of the whole city. So we can all be in his position, if we just do the right thing.”

Stoute is a boxer with the East Orange Police Athletic League program, so he’s a fighter, just like Green, who is a martial arts master and the owner of the Green School of Martial Arts. Stoute agreed that he has a lot in common with Green a lot in common, including SWEP.

“I go to East Orange Campus High and this is my fourth job now,” said Stoute on Friday, July 6. “I have other goals, too, but boxing is just my main focus right now, besides school. I can see the potential, based off his message, so I’m going to just keep focused on what I want to focus on and I believe that I can get there because of this. It’s a good way to help build your resume. This is going to be my first job on my resume, so when I turn 18 in September, when I get another job I can put all this on my resume. That’s all I’m looking forward to.”

Jerrell Antley, 26, said he is also a SWEP program alumni and can vouch for everything the mayor said. He currently works in City Hall as an aide to the mayor, but said he wants to become a firefighter in the East Orange Fire Department.

“I think Mayor Green is the epitome of what East Orange is all about: hard work, resilience and I think you heard that in his message today,” said Antley on Friday, July 6.