Matching Employers and Employees

Khrysten Keys at work at the Port St. Joe Star.

Khrysten Keys at work at the Port St. Joe Star.

A partnership between the Jessie Ball duPont Port St. Joe Capacity Building Fund and Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board, Inc., has created a summer job internship program for teens in a community where job opportunities historically have been few.

Port St. Joe has a population of fewer than 5,000 and limited economic opportunities. But Workforce staff has solicited local businesses to provide the jobs, while Workforce provides a salary of $200 a week. Interns work four days a week and, on the fifth day, attend financial management classes taught by Workforce to help them learn how to manage their paycheck responsibly.

In summer 2012, 20 youth had internships through the program.

Khrysten Keys, a rising junior at the University of Florida studying English, heard about the internship program through relatives while in school. She applied, was accepted and placed at The Star, Port St. Joe’s weekly newspaper, where she writes articles and handles general newsroom chores.

“She’s done a great job,” said Editor Tim Croft.

Across town at The Bridge at Bay St. Joe, a nursing home specializing in care for cognitively impaired adults, Ashley Robinson, 18, who just graduated from high school, has an internship providing activities for the nursing home residents.

Two interns from last summer, Dajon Williams and Shalonda Whitley, used their internship as a springboard to full-time jobs at The Bridge, where they have recently completed courses for their Certified Nursing Assistant license.

“The internship gave me a lot of clarity in my career — understanding where my heart is and where I want to be,” said Williams. “It gave me my purpose so I could get on to my next goals.”

Ron Reid, CEO of The Bridge, had nothing but praise for the Workforce program.

“The value to an employer is enormous,” he said, “because Workforce has already vetted these candidates. We know that they will show up to work on time, dressed appropriately and prepared to fulfill their responsibilities.”

The value of these programs to the Jessie Ball duPont Fund is significant as well.

“This community of young people desperately needs the programs that Workforce is providing,” said Katie Ensign, senior program officer at the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “In a community where local resources are few, the assets that Workforce brings can make a tremendous difference.”