Column: A call to businesses: Hire our youths

By Westfair Online

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By Allison Madison

We are a well-established staffing firm with a multitude of candidate resources. Why would we possibly consider hiring “at risk youth” for a major project with the county on a contract that is important to our company’s reputation?

Because there is a greater risk to our community if businesses do not step up and start providing these promising young people an opportunity to learn vital life and work skills in real world situations. But we didn’t do it alone; we had the support of great partners.

Here is our small success story:

Our company, Madison Approach Staffing, had the opportunity to provide staff to the consulting company contracted to survey a part of the Bee Line system. We had to find 30 people to work as early as 5 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. to ride the buses and transfer lines and ask (often less-than-enthusiastic) passengers to participate in a ridership survey.

Because of my experience as a member of the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, I decided this would be a great opportunity for our community’s young people. I reached out to Ebony White at The Business Council of Westchester, which recently was awarded a contract to assist the WDB with youth employment opportunities. (Companies looking to hire youths can contact Ebony at EWhite@thebcw.org.) She in turn reached out to her contacts and put us in touch with the incredible staff at The Children’s Village. The job counselors were enthusiastic to help, professional and understood the timeliness of our needs. What is more, they solidly prepared each and every one of the candidates they sent to us for the project.

This is a difficult, tiresome, thankless job. And, if anyone recalls the weather on Oct. 28, it is also a cold, standing in the pouring rain, soaking wet job. It is a keep a smile on your face and keep going even when no one wants to talk to you job. It is a be friendly and courteous despite everything job. And these young men and women showed up to their shifts, prepared and ready to work, completed their assignments and did wonderfully.

We benefited from having a fantastic, available and enthusiastic workforce. The young men and women we employed earned more than just a paycheck. They learned valuable customer service skills, life skills about arriving to work on time, responsibility, professional attire and the value of being a part of the greater working community.

I am a business owner here in Westchester; I also live here, raising my own three children. I have a twofold vested interest in seeing the Westchester community thrive and support its young people. Not only do I believe that we all have a human, civic duty to provide an opportunity to all of our children, I also know as a business person that these young people need to be developed into our future workforce and our future leaders.

As a resident and fellow business owner, I implore each of you reading this to make an effort to provide our youth with opportunities within your organizations to learn the work skills and life lessons necessary to become successful citizens of our community. It is well worth the investment.

 Allison Madison is president of Madison Approach Staffing Inc. and CEO of Candid Capture LLC in White Plains. 

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