These young teens' motivation is inspiring.
An employee at LaGrange Housing Authority in Georgia, Zsa Zsa Heard, was at work one day when four teenage boys approached her and asked for jobs.
The boys were young, only 13 and 14, but were eager to start working at such a young age for an unexpected reason. Heard asked them why they wanted jobs, waiting to hear them say they wanted to earn some money for the summer, but instead they told her their true motivation.
“They revealed gang members were approaching them,” said Heard.
Despite being so young, the boys told her that they were approached by gangs looking to recruit them “all the time.” Gangs often approach boys when they are young and vulnerable because they are impressionable and will likely stick with the gang for life.
She said all four of them live in the housing authority and that this isn’t the first time they have come to her and asked for jobs, but this was the first time that they revealed the reason why.
When she found out what the boys, Dylik, Dennis, Deion and Jalen, were attempting to avoid, she hired them on the spot. Heard knows that jobs and other opportunities that keep the teens busy can significantly aid in keeping the teens off the streets and out of gangs.
Heard told 11Alive News:
“If they feel that they’re valuable, and if we show them how important they are, then we don’t risk losing them. I don’t want them to seek the love and attention from the negative. I want them to find their value in other things.”
As for their actual job, she paired them with a maintenance worker at the facility and they were able to learn basic carpentry skills. She’s also kept them busy by having them pick produce in the community garden, tend to the chicken coop, and pass out mail and other deliveries.
“They will do whatever you ask them to do. Whatever you need, they will do it,” Heard said.
Their hard work and willingness to engage is paying off, too; one of the boys expressed an interest in studying for a career in livestock after spending time working the garden.
Heard took to Facebook to “empower the young men” and has received a great deal of positive feedback from her post about the teens. Some of their teachers have even personally messaged Heard to tell her about how great the boys are. She knows that if she gives them the support they need, they will succeed.
The boys’ work isn’t unpaid either. They are each given prepaid cards where they earn a few dollars for every chore they perform.
They just started school this week, but Heard said that the boys are welcome back anytime, including holiday breaks, so that they can stay busy and out of trouble.
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