The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On reading Renata on youth employment issues

Three generations of Albaneses: Donna, her parents Adele and Joe, and her son Richard.

Plainfield youth could certainly do worse than have Renata Hernandez in their corner.

Renata, a Board of Ed member who also mentors a group of young women, posted on her blog (see here) regarding youth employment issues in the Queen City as she sees them, citing some of her experiences.

Renata is right that young people need to be given that 'first' job opportunity, and the kinds of local businesses she mentions (C-Town, McDonalds, Dairy Queen) are often the point of entry into the job market for Plainfield youngsters.

But Renata links her less-than-ideal experience with C-Town to McDonalds and Dairy Queen in a way that can leave the reader thinking these businesses don't offer opportunities for youngsters trying to get into the workforce.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Both Angela Adderly (at her South Avenue and downtown McDonalds franchises) and the Albanese family make it a point of giving Plainfield youth their first jobs, and with them opportunities for picking up invaluable life skills that will serve them however far they go in their adult lives.

In particular, I can commend Donna Albanese (as if she needed it, having been recognized by the Dairy Queen organization for the family's OUTSTANDING community service), through my own personal experience.

In the early1990s, I helped form a community outreach nonprofit at Grace Episcopal Church. Among our programs was a girlchoir, composed of Plainfield girls from grades 4 to 12 who became part of a choir that concertized extensively throughout the tri-state area.  The girls received a small stipend and, besides singing, were given homework coaching, recreation activities and what I suppose you could call 'life skills coaching': timeliness, accountabililty, good grooming and carriage, leadership opportunities, and pathways to excellence and recognition through a recognized international musical organization.

Besides that, as the girls matured and move out of the girlchoir experience, several found employment with Donna Albanese at the Dairy Queen.

Over the years, many of Donna's employees (including the girls from Grace) would move on to college and other career options; but one of the amazing things is the sense of 'family' that the Albanese's former employees have, coming back for visits, even bringing their own children in and explaining this was where they got their first job opportunity.

Bernice Paglia, in a comment on Renata's post, pointed out all the Albaneses have done; Renata picked up on that without actually apologizing for included them in with her C-Town experience.

That is unfortunate, because advocating for a good cause (giving young people a crack at their first job) was marred by implying that McDonalds and Dairy Queen (along with other, unspecifed South Avenue businesses) are doing less than their share.

As for employing young people, I am surprised Renata doesn't mention the school-to-jobs opportunities that are open to high school students. I shop several times a week at Twin City on Seventh Street, and there is at least one young cashier there whom I have learned works there as just part of such a school-to-jobs program.

Business people have to run their businesses so that they can keep the doors open. It doesn't help the situation in a fragile economy to suggest -- without any detailed analysis, only an unhappy experience with ONE business -- that our young people are being let down and these businesses are putting their very futures in peril.

How is this helpful, and is the assertion justified or hyperbolic?

First of all, the unemployment rate among Plainfield ADULTS is higher than the state average of 9.1%, and many of these people have mouths to feed at home. What about them? And then there is the matter of UNDEREMPLOYMENT, folks taking on part-time or temporary work to get by when there are no full-time jobs available. What about these folks?

Employment -- youth and adult -- are big issues, big challenges and big opportunities in Plainfield.

Renata is right to challenge Mayor Robinson-Briggs to get to work on this matter; it is one that is only belatedly getting any attention from this Administration. And Renata's offer of help is reassuring.

However, berating businesses who may be doing everything you think is good -- and even more than you know -- is hardly a way to win friends and influence people.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

I think you're being too hard in your criticism of Ms Hernandez's strong post. I'm pretty sure that she consciously limited herself to writing about youths, which, after all, is where her expertise and interests lie.

Now that I've defended her (as if she ever needs defending!) I was disappointed in her assertion that if she were mayor she would personally march down to wherever and confront and challenge the manager to explain their action or lack thereof. First, I don't think that kind of gunboat diplomacy is effective, and second, a major part of the problem with the way this town is run is that way too many problems are individualized. If you spend your time fighting for this one or that one there's not much time left to see, study and act on the big picture. Not seeing and acting on the big picture is surely the major fault of the current administration. Please don't suggest that we add to the mayor's already full plate.

Or maybe I misread the post (sorry - I didn't, and don't, plan to study it.) Maybe if the post is read along with her recent criticism of the mayor's self-promotional talk at the CofC meeting we could come away with the perception that RH doesn't think too much of SRB, and while RH would prefer that SRB take action, RH doesn't really think SRB is capable, so it's only a rhetorical suggestion. Hard to know for sure.

Anonymous said...

Renata has such a bad attitude that I have a concern regarding what sort of mentoring she provides. Just what we need, more young kids with bad attitudes.


LOL…I can’t believe you wrote a whole story about this as if I were trying to knock Dairy Queen’s community support effort even after having read my response to Bernice regarding DQ.

How asking to reengage these businesses to negotiate employment for our youth translates into negating any community service one provides is not at all where I was going with the 61 words that seemed to spawn your post out of the entire 545 word post I provided.

Hey listen – if Donna or any of the Albaneses are offended by what I wrote, including my response to Bernice’s comment, please give them my phone number and I will write up a Blog apologizing to them because that was not where I was going with my post, and I will do it for my Dad because he really likes them!

Anonymous said...

I heard Carvel is coming to the South ave Business District

Anonymous said...

I also heard that its coming to the old queen city diner

patricia gambino said...

I have know Donna Albanese for a long time. We go back to when our adult children were in grade school. Her and the Albanese family have been very generous and have done a lot to benefit the youth especially in the city of Plainfield. Please research all this family has done before you speak.

patricia gambino said...

I have known Donna since our children were in grade school. Her and family have been very generous to the city of Plainfield. Especially employing the youth of Plainfield. Please research all this family has done for not only Plainfield but surrounding towns. Please visit their store and read the articles posted glorifying the youth of Plainfield before comments are made.


Anonymous 9:42AM - Although I know how this will go let me tell you what I actually said and how it differs from your cursory review.

So I said “…negotiate employment opportunities for our young people as though their life depends on it because guess what – it does.

Negotiate --is a dialogue between two or more people or parties, intended to reach an understanding, resolve point of difference, or gain advantage in outcome of dialogue, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests of two person/ parties involved in negotiation process.

For --with the object or purpose of

Our – form of the possessive case of “we”

That entire gun boating, marching, confronting, challenging nonsense was neither stated, nor implied.

For FACT! I KNOW Sharon is capable of negotiating with our local businesses.

You guys really don’t believe people tell the truth around here. I don’t know which is sadder; to be chastise because you tell it, or to be misinterpreted because folks are so unfamiliar with it they think there is a hidden message.

It’s just very telling and absolutely awful that you don’t see the situation with our youth and their needs as part of the Big Picture.


And to that other Anonymous Wonder -- I definitely have Attitude, Chutzpah, Spunk, Nerve, Moxie and LOVE...Love for my family, my community, my youth and myself!

And I'd rather be in a society where there are some kids running around owning their stuff and spouting the truth than hiding behind cowardly nameless posts, hatred and duplicity.

Anonymous said...

-What absolute RUBBISH!
-how can you ask such a silly question!
-Are you SERIOUS?
-so you are talking PURE NONSENSE!
-Wake up
-never mind your rose colored, biased glasses
-And don't bother writing back -someone so darn arrogant needs to be ousted!
-cowardly nameless posts, hatred and duplicity.


Pat G. -- please makes sure you read my posts BEFORE you speak.

Anonymous said...

As a business owner who has had a fair share of todays youth in looking for employment, I can assure you that they need the kind of mentoring that seems to be provided by Renatta. I don't know her and don't believe we have ever met, but I can assure you it cant hurt.
Let them know they are not entitled to a job no more than a free handout. It has to be earned. They wont be paid $50K to start. When they come in for a interview, loose the gum, the cell phones and the ipods. Loose the earrings from your tongue and face. Like is a description or comparison, it is not how we start every sentence. Pull the pants up or get a belt, you are not in prison. Be on time. Leave mom or dad or your friends in the car or have them wait outside. This is an interview, not an outing. Wear appropriate clothing. I dont care what music you like or what fashion statement you are trying to make. Wear business attire. I could go on and on, but these are some key points to start with.

Anonymous said...

Once again Renata's words are taken out of context. Once again the haters are spewing ridiculous rhetoric about something Renata is brave, bold and honest enough to bring to light! How can people fault her for that?? If any of you naysayers really knew her, you would know where her heart really is! Renata is committed to this town and its youth, more so than most!! YOU, Renata A. Hernandez are the TRUTH!!!!!!