J. came to CHMO in July, looking for a job. “My summer started off badly,” he says. “I wanted to find a job to stay out of trouble.” J. applied and was hired into CHMO’s Garden Rangers program, a job training program that offers education and employment.
For eight weeks, J. started his day at 6 a.m. to catch the first of three buses on his way to CHMO. After completing the seven-day employment skills workshop, J. and other Garden Rangers traveled to the Shaw and Kingsway West neighborhoods to pick up trash and clean streets.
It was hot. It was dirty. It was smelly.
And he came every day.
With a smile. With a positive attitude. With hope.
“I know I’m a different person from coming here,” he says. “For the first time in a long time my mom is smiling, and that makes me smile.”
J. participated in an extension of the Garden Rangers program. Thanks to a grant from the City of St. Louis Department of Public Safety, CHMO employed an additional 50 youth from the community.