Memphis center responds to summer job program

When word got out about a summer youth job program, phone lines lit up at the Memphis Neighborhood Christian Center.

One center employee says, "I guess there are 1500 to 2000 people that are looking for jobs."

And there are only 300 jobs to go around.

The summer program, which was cancelled this year due to a budget crisis was revived by a city council committee this week in response to a summer crime crisis.

JoAnn Ballard with the Neighborhood Christian Center says, "You know someone just said to me this morning that they had sat around all summer cause they had nothing to do but watch soap operas and throw rocks at people's windows."

Ballard doesn't fault the city for cutting corners.

She continues, "City hall was trying to save Mama's and Daddy's job when the cuts took place."

The program is off to a late start, just a few weeks before school starts.  But students already working say its never too late.

Lyisha Allan, student intern, says, "That's really how gangs get started.  When children have nothing to do, they tend to click if I didn't have a job, I'd probably be sitting home doing nothing."

A special committee will meet at the Neighborhood Christian Center at 9 Thursday morning to work out a plan.  The general public should know by noon more about when and where job applications will become available.

Ballard continues, "By Tuesday hopefully we'll have kids up and running with jobs maybe as early as Monday."

And Ballard says a crisis taught the city a valuable lesson.

"We can work together and we can help each other," says Ballard.

And never underestimate the value of a summer job.