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Teens Ask For Summer Jobs When Gangs Try To Recruit Them

“I hired them on the spot! The streets will not have our children!”


From left to right: Desmond Woodard, Dylik Smith, Jalen Parham and Deion Woodard.

These kids ganged up ― to keep themselves out of gangs.

Earlier this summer, four teenage boys who live in Georgia’s LaGrange Housing Authority landed summer jobs working for their community after months of persistence paid off.

The moment that sealed the deal was when the young men explained to Zsa Zsa Heard, CEO at LaGrange Housing Authority, that all of them had been pressured to join gangs, and were looking for a positive way to stay out of trouble. The exchange led Heard to write a moving Facebook post, where she reveals:

“I hired them on the spot! The streets will not have our children!”

Dylik Smith, 13, Jalen Parham, 13, and twin brothers, Desmond and Deion Woodard, 14, spent the summer tending to a community garden, distibuting flyers and completing other odd jobs around LaGrange Housing Authority for $7.25 an hour.

Heard told reporters that they’re even building new picnic benches for the community.The teens had persistently approached Heard for jobs beginning last May, when they were released from high school for summer break. But Heard figures the boys were just motivated to earn extra cash. “I thought they just wanted to work for money,” she told HuffPost.

Heard finally gave the boys an opportunity on July 26, explaining that she needed to consult with the financial department at LaGrange Housing Authority about hiring them, but if they came back to her office the following day, she’d discuss some possibilities.

They set their appointment for 11 a.m. on July 27. The young men arrived at her office that day at 10:15 a.m.

Heard then asked the teens why they wanted jobs, assuming that they would respond by explaining their financial motivations. But the response Heard got surprised her.

“That’s when Desmond told me, ‘We just don’t want to be in gangs.’”

Heard said the other three teens turned their heads away, but Woodard pressed on.

“He said, ‘Tell her the truth, tell her they’ve approached all of us, not just me.’”

The boys confirmed that they had been approached by gangs.

 “I knew then we had to put them to work fast,” Heard said.

Heard hired the boys that day and posted about the experience on Facebook:

So far the post has received over 600 shares, over 400 likes and comments from people beaming with support.

Heard told HuffPost that the boys are excellent workers that don’t turn up their noses at any task — “Even cleaning out the chicken coop yesterday, they do it and they don’t complain at all,” Heard said. “Anything we ask they do it.”

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