INDIANAPOLIS — A local grassroots organization is starting its youth summer employment program this week, giving local kids a way to make money while keeping them out of trouble.
At ML and Trip Mentoring Outreach Center they just started their youth employment initiative. The first focus is on beautifying the grounds here at the center on North Sherman Drive. From there they are heading out into the community and will eventually create a community garden to help feed local families.
"Trying to get the kids to believe in building something on their own," Fletcher Triplett, co-president of ML and Trip Mentoring Outreach Center, said. "Kids who need our help and kids who just want to help to prevent them from going to the streets or making bad decisions."
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Triplett and his wife, Lashauna, have a passion for mentoring and empowering kids that face a variety of challenges, from trouble in school to mental health issues.
"I was a bad kid at school," Charles Forest, part of the youth employment program, said. "I used to have Fs, a whole lot of Fs. Now I got As and Bs and one C, that was my lowest grade."
Triplett has been mentoring Forest for six years. During that time, Forest said he's learned coping skills like how to calm down and relax and this summer he's learning even more.
"Work hard. Work hard, get paid," Forest said. "People see you working hard they are going to like it and say we need you to work for us."
"Teaching them to be trustworthy, respectful, independent people to the point where I know once you are outside of these walls you are doing what's right," Triplett said. "Even when it's to the point where you're involved with the police being respectful to avoid any altercation or anything that's going on out there, lose your life."
Throughout the summer, the youth will earn a bi-weekly stipend by not only managing the garden at the center but also going out into the community and cleaning up the local neighborhood.
The youth summer employment program and ML and Trip Mentoring also teaches the kids skills like how to manage their money and eventually run their own business. The weekly stipends come from grant money from the Central Indiana Community Foundation.