Dozens of teens gathered at The Children’s Aid Society’s National Center for Community Schools for the 2010 Internship Appreciation Ceremony on Thursday, August 19th. They were joined by family, friends and Children’s Aid staff as well as staff from several New York City elected officials’ offices at which they interned over the summer.
Not many inner city teens get to experience a real office environment. Imagine these same teens helping to run the busy offices of Congressman Charles B. Rangel or Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat by dealing with community members and answering phone calls. Luckily for the participants of the Community Building Internship Program, which is run by Lorena Jimenez-Castro, Children’s Aid’s Government Affairs Liaison, the experiences and skills acquired while working with these important individuals have prepared them that much more for entering the real world of college and the work force. The summer interns were placed in offices of elected officials in the Bronx, Harlem and Washington Heights. Among the many placements, teens worked with Assemblymember Marcos Crespo and Council Member Inez E. Dickens. The appreciation ceremony was an opportunity for the interns to express their gratitude to the staff who have guided them through a unique and memorable seven week experience.
“Juggling phone calls and translations was not easy,” said Virginia Farita, who interned at the office of Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat in Washington Heights, “but with focus everything is possible.” Ms. Farita was referred to the internship program by The Teen Pregnancy and Sexuality Prevention Program.
Ruby Roman, who interned in the office of Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, shared that “in the past, I had trouble following through with things but with this internship I learned to finish what I started.” Assemblymember Crespo accompanied Ruby to the ceremony, along with other members of his staff. “You’re part of the family forever” said Mr. Crespo.
The interns also unveiled a 29-page community resource guide which they wrote on issues of great importance to their neighborhoods and that lists organizations that offer immigration, education, housing and health coverage services. The warm afternoon mirrored the warm words of appreciation from all in attendance. I for one am thankful that there are opportunities like this for our youth, who keep these elected officials connected to the communities in which they serve and the issues for which they fight.
Image courtesy of Ben Russell. Pictured left to right: Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Intern Ruby Roman, Matthew Shuffler, Chief of Staff and William D. Weisberg, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer for The Children’s Aid Society.