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Suffolk creates 76 youth summer jobs with state anti-gang funds

From left, William Vigil, 18, a 2018 graduate

From left, William Vigil, 18, a 2018 graduate of Brentwood High School and a Summer Youth Program employee, Suffolk Legis. Monica Martinez, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Carlos Rojas, 17, an incoming senior at Brentwood High School and a Summer Youth Program employee, greet one another in the library at Brentwood High School on Wednesday. Credit: Barry Sloan

A state grant aimed at gang prevention added 76 summer jobs to a Suffolk youth job program this year, county officials announced Wednesday at Brentwood High School.

Officials said 888 youth were employed in the Suffolk Youth Employment Program as custodial aides, camp counselors, food service workers, clerical aides and teacher aides from June or July to mid-August.

The additional summer jobs funded with the $150,000 grant are focused in Wyandanch, Brentwood and Bellport, officials said.

William Vigil, 18, who graduated from Brentwood High School this year, said the money he saved working at Brentwood’s career education office would help him cover books, supplies and necessities next school year at Suffolk County Community College. And, it will boost his resume.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said of the $11-an-hour position.

County Executive Steve Bellone, who reminisced about his first job as a Newsday delivery boy, said the purpose of the Summer Youth Employment Program is to provide 14- to 21-year-olds from economically disadvantaged areas with real-world work experience.

“We need to give options that are positive outlets, things that teens can take advantage of,” Bellone said. “Particularly in the summer,” he said, when “people in criminal organizations prey upon them.”

Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) hired two youngsters through the program to work at her legislative office.

“It’s these opportunities that we’re giving our students that will bring them toward success,” Martinez said. “Here in Brentwood school district we have amazing children, we have amazing teachers, amazing staff and faculty and administration, and it takes someone with a heart to know our kids deserve more than what they’re getting.”

The Summer Youth Employment Program has been in existence for over 50 years in Suffolk County.

The Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs received $1.6 million in funding from New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to help run the Summer Youth Employment Program. An additional $150,000 in funding supplemented the program as part of Cuomo’s $18.5 million plan announced in April to reduce gang violence and divert at-risk youth away from gang activity.

All of the youth are paid $11 an hour and work 25 hours per week.

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