BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Before Bill Finch became the mayor of Connecticut’s largest city, he cut the grass at a golf course.
“And then I cut the grass again,” Finch said to an audience of city youth about to start summer jobs during a meeting Monday. “But I learned how to show up to work on time, to save my money. I was able to get my first car, and I was able to pay for UConn tuition.”
And soon more Bridgeport youth may be able to get that first break and save for college or that first car, too.
Finch announced 100 more summer jobs for Bridgeport youth at the event — bringing total number through city programs to nearly 750.
Youth will head out to summer positions through the mayor’s conservation corps, the lighthouse program — an after-school educational and recreational program, and the city's parks and recreation department. WorkPlace Inc., a Bridgeport-based workplace development service, also worked with the city to offer the summer positions, according to the mayor’s office.
Monday also marks the beginning of the sixth season of the mayor’s conservation corps. That summer job program, which Finch created in 2010, is made up of a team of young adults who canvass Bridgeport neighborhoods speaking with residents about a number of environmental issues.
“Your not only going to have a paycheck,” Finch told the conservation corps members at the event, “But you are going to be creating investments in our community.”
Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. lauded the program as a way to reduce crime. The issue of violence in the city has been a hot-button issue during the race for the Democratic endorsement for mayor.
Last week, Finch opened a police substation in the troubled Trumbull Gardens housing complex . Democratic candidate Joe Ganim had announced the opening of a dual campaign office and unofficial police station nearby before Finch's announcement.
The city hopes that this jobs program will help prevent crime. Gaudett said a recent study found that youths who have summer jobs stay out of trouble not just during the summer but also during the school year.
The program employs youths in in customer service, marketing, landscaping, camps and the police department as assistants.
Youths ages 14 to 21 will be selected for the new 100 jobs from an application waiting list by random lottery.
Finch urged the audience to apply for police and firefighter positions, which offer job stability and retirement benefits.
“You may not be thinking a pension now,” Finch said. “But when you start getting gray hairs — like me — you start thinking about it.”
City officials said youth interested in applying for summer jobs can call The Office of Youth Services at 203-576-7262.
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