North Light interns celebrate productive summer of work

This summer, North Light Community Center gave 50 local students a valuable glimpse into the real world.

From selling produce at a local farmer’s market to working at East River Bank, the kids were able to get a feel for their specific career of interest.

It was all part of North Light’s Summer Internship Program, which has provided internships to local students for 30 years.

On Tuesday night, the interns gathered at Manayunk Brewery on Main Street with some of their summer employers to celebrate their achievements.

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“We had 50 youths working, representing 23 schools, 15 different zip codes at 27 total work sites,” said Billy Eisenberg, director of education and teen services at North Light. “It’s not just a summer job; it’s more than that.”

The program offers students a chance to get involved in one of three programs: WorkReady Philadelphia, the Urban Sustainability Leadership Academy (USLA) or Teens 4 Good. The Philadelphia Youth Partner was also part of the internship program.

WorkReady Philadelphia is a city-wide youth workforce development system funded through a blend of public, private and philanthropic investments.

This summer, 25 WorkReady interns and 17 USLA interns were placed at 26 worksites throughout Manayunk, Roxborough, Center City, West Philadelphia and Germantown.

Over the past few months, the interns worked up to 102 hours at the worksite of their choice and attended an additional three hours of professional development seminars at North Light per week.

“It was a pleasure working this summer,” said Miya McAfee, WorkReady Coordinator. “I was happy to give what I could offer to North Light.”

USLA is a two-year after-school program for juniors and seniors at Roxborough High School, facilitated by North Light. This summer, instructors taught about leadership development, urban and social sustainability, awareness of social responsibility, professional development and setting and reaching post-secondary goals.

Intern Daniel Cruel was a USLA participant who worked with the House of Reconciliation, Inc. in Center City this summer.  He regaled the audience of his early directionless life at Roxborough High before he met Eisenberg. Cruel joined the internship program a few years ago and says he’s changed for the better.

“One year, I worked in radio. They must have liked me. Then I received an award from Mayor Michael Nutter. He must have really liked me because he kept shaking my hand,” said Cruel.

Other interns were busy working for an urban farming business, Teens 4 Good, this summer. During the school year and summer break, they took on paid internships at a worksite within their career interest.

The Teens 4 Good program runs for six weeks during the summer, with youth participating in farm harvesting and selling produce at farmer’s markets, restaurants and even ShopRite. North Light Community Center manages the Teens 4 Good farm at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, which the USLA works on during the school year.

Many of the participating employers eventually hire these interns as employees and help them grow into successful professionals.

“I encourage and invite all business owners to get involved with this program,” said Ralph Sposato of Dr. Ralph’s Automotive. “Mentoring these youths has been a great pleasure. Individually, we can change the world one person at a time.”

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