If it weren’t for a summer youth employment program called Man Up, 15-year-old Anthony Freeman wouldn’t have a job.
The program, started by Lyndon Jones and Ron Jones, serves the residents of Newtown, hoping to reach and prepare youths for employability, family, financial and community accountability, while also teaching them good citizenship through a summer employment program with the city of Sarasota, Sarasota Housing Authority and the Sarasota Police Department.
Freeman, a student at Suncoast Poly Technical High School, is currently working at the front desk of the North Sarasota Library. He heard about Man Up when Lyndon Jones made an appearance at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Freeman said the library job has been good because he’s plowed through his summer reading requirements.
“My supervisors are really nice and keep me busy,” Freeman said. “Mr. Jones tells me what I need to do, how to act and how to express my thoughts. I’ve really enjoyed this experience.”
Man Up, which employs 30 boys who complete an application, submit a written request for participation and receive two written teacher recommendations, aims to deter young men from drug involvement, unemployment and imprisonment.
“These are first-class students from rough neighborhoods who are really focused,” said Martin Gutfreund, a supporter of the program. “This is not, ‘How I spent my summer vacation.’ These are people who are learning special life-skills training, men’s health issues and financial tools for success. These are people who will become college graduates.”
Fredrick Piccolo, chief executive officer of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, has employed two young men through the Man Up program.
“This program is the first of its kind and unique,” Piccolo said. “It’s a well-rounded plan that gives men a leg up as they go off to school in the real world. These aren’t just jobs — the program mentors kids as they work to become men.”
Contact Loren Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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