On Thursday I was reminded once again of the importance of opportunity.
The Youth Services Department of New Haven has a terrific program called Youth@Work that provides paid summer employment and job experience for youths between the ages of 14 and 17.
At its peak, the program has provided summer jobs for up to 1,200 youth. Due to cuts in public funding, however, less than 500 jobs were going to be available this summer. That’s why there was no question that I would help when I learned of the program’s need.
These are the type of programs that remind of the great people and organizations that ultimately influenced me. When I was growing up in the New Haven area, my family did not have much. Even as a child, I was always working.
My first job was with Farricielli Flower in West Haven, and my First boss was Charlie Farricielli, one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He was also my first mentor. And while the money was important to my family as we struggled to make ends meet, I realize now how much I learned from those experiences.
It is important that today’s youth have the same opportunities to be exposed to other people and ideas so they can see there’s a big world out there and can understand that they do have options. That is why it was such an honor to be able to help continue the tradition of inspiring others and to help our youth get real-world, hands-on experience.
As I said yesterday during a press conference announcing the Tariq Farid Foundation’s commitment to charity, making money is important, but what’s really important is what you do with it.