Creating Responsible Educated Working Teens
CREW, also known as the Creating Responsible Educated Working Teens program, is a summer enrichment opportunity for Birmingham area teens. The YWCA of Central Alabama, in coordination with Woodlawn Foundation, PNC Bank, Protective Life, Charles and Estelle Campbell Foundation and Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, annually conducts this program to provide Birmingham teens a positive option for how to fill their summer breaks.
“Being a member of the CREW program allowed me to expand my social network and establish deep, meaningful relationships with people around the city,” said 2018 CREW member Zo Shauku. “I had an amazing experience, I grew as a person and I learned a lot.”
Twenty-five teenagers were selected and divided amongst worksites in the Woodlawn & Downtown Birmingham areas including Grace Works summer camp, culinary work in the YWoodlawn Family Resource Center’s teaching kitchen, landscaping of the YWoodlawn campus, Jones Valley Urban Farm, Central Library, Denmark Properties, Norwood Master Gardner Camp and Woodlawn Cycle Cafe. Each participant completed 18-hours or work each week over a 7-week period while earning a stipend and valuable job skill training.
“Not only did 25 teenagers come to just work over the summer, but they came to also give back to their community through exhibiting leadership, commitment, and dedication in every task that was assigned,” said Jak’Lyn Tarpley, coordinator of YWoodlawn’s Family Resource Center. “These young men and women didn’t leave here after 7- weeks’ empty, they left here responsible, educated, strong working teenagers with a purpose and a plan for their lives by utilizing the tools they were given through various speakers and training in their toolbox to get them moving towards their purpose and goals in life.”
In addition to job skill training, CREW members engaged in several enrichment trips including college tours, team building exercises at Cherokee Bend Course, a Courthouse Mock Trial and a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. Each participant also received personal development training focused on professionalism and dining etiquette, resume writing and job interviewing, healthy relationships and a ‘reality check’ from BancorpSouth Bank.
The 2018 CREW program came to a close with a ceremony for their family and friends that featured words of encouragement from Major Lacey Gunnoe, a proficient speaker on leadership and personal growth, and the City of Birmingham’s Mayor, Randall Woodfin. Major Lacey and Mayor Woodfin both encouraged CREW members to look beyond their fears and failures and to keep working towards their goals.
“The biggest way to let yourself down is to fail at something you really wanted and not try again,” said Mayor Woodfin. “You have to keep going, keep moving, stay motivated, and don’t let fear or failure stop you from being the person you know you are.”