Pinellas Opportunity Council Inc. Youth Development Program

ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Opportunity Council Inc. (POC) Youth Development Program recently completed another summer serving the Pinellas County community with 45 students participating in its pre-employment training and skills development program. For 31 years, it has rescued area youth from idle summers of TV, video games, junk food and social media. Two groups of students were celebrated for their participation in this year’s program.

On Fri., July 25, POC recognized 33 students at the St. Petersburg College Midtown campus, at a luncheon for parents, students, supervisors and community partners. Judge Patrice Moore, a past participant in the POC Youth Development Program, delivered a very motivational and inspirational speech.

“The sky is the limit. Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid of failure. Always do your best and know that somebody is watching you who could really be helpful to your future,” said Judge Moore.

Throughout the summer, students 14 – 17 were energized through training provided by POC and STEMTEC staff. Some spent six weeks studying and gaining hands-on practical part-time work experience.  Employers providing job placements and supervision included: City of St. Petersburg Recreation Department, Daystar Life Center, Dr. ML King Jr. NFC – Aquatic Center Clearwater, St. Petersburg College (Midtown), STEMTEC Program, St. Petersburg College (Seminole) campus, Advantage Village Academy, Bay Area Legal Services and the Pinellas Park Library. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) provided funding, employment opportunities, and many other incentives for 4 of the 33 students.

The luncheon was sponsored by the Young Professional Network, TD Bank, Beef O’ Brady and Portofino Pizza.

On Thurs., July 17, 2014 12 additional students from the Pinellas County School System’s HEAT (Homeless Education Assistance Team) Program, were recognized for their participation in the pre- employment/life skills development training component provided by POC.

A luncheon was held in their honor at the Sunshine Center St. Petersburg. These students were inspired by words of encouragement from the POC Executive Director, Carolyn King, and Dr. Patricia Williams, Dropout Prevention HEAT Program. Their messages conveyed “always be prepared, and although life may present many obstacles you can still achieve great things.”

All participating students received a monetary incentive for their hard work. Armed with newly developed skills, these students left the program with a heightened sense of confidence and greater expectations for future accomplishments.

A special thank you to all of our sponsors and partners in this year’s program.

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