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My Block, My Hood, My City Summer Job Program Will Connect Teens With Seniors In Need During Pandemic

Teens would earn $15 per hour to check in on seniors, deliver groceries and learn about how to safely help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jahmal Cole of My Block, My Hood, My City.
Stephanie Lulay
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ENGLEWOOD — With summer around the corner, hundreds of teens and young adults will be looking to to keep busy. My Block My Hood My City Founder Jahmal Cole aims to help while bridging the generational divide.

To that end, the organization has created a program, Youth-Senior Connect, to provide training to youths interested in pursing careers in the medical field, while taking care of the city’s elderly population.

“A lot of these kids don’t have anything to do when summer comes, so we want to provide an opportunity for them,” said Cole, who was invited by Gov. JB Pritzker to convey some words of encouragement at a recent press conference to Illinois’ youth dealing with the pandemic.

Normally, youth employed through My Block My Hood My City would be spending the summer giving tours of city neighborhoods. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the organization to pivot.

Credit: Provided
Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, decorates one out of dozens of street lights along King Dr.

“We’ve received 2,500 requests from seniors for help,” Cole said. “The kids who participate in the program would be calling them to check in on them, see what they need, whether it’s groceries or someone to talk to.”

The organization has received 20 applications so far. They’re looking for 50-75 teens and young adults between the ages of 16-25 who are willing to work part-time through the summer. Positions pay up to $15 an hour.

Cole added that he’s in talks with Rush University Medical Center to provide additional COVID-19-related training for program participants, who would also conduct mental wellness surveys.

“These kids aren’t going to be in the house all summer. They’re going to be outside,” Cole said. “Chicago youth are smart and resilient, so this is my effort to give them something to do. If you’re looking for summer work, this is for you.”

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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