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9:17 AM / Tuesday January 31, 2023

8 Jul 2021

Building Bridges For Philly Youth: METWorks Youth Year-Long WorkReady Recognition Program

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July 8, 2021 Category: Local Posted by:

By Veronica Norris

Photos: Mr. Ken Dunkley

On Saturday, June 26, the Management & Environmental Technologies (MET) program held their year-long closing ceremony at the Black-owned Relish restaurant located in West Oak Lane  

The youth were excited as they entered the doors to celebrate themselves, and rightfully so. An academic year of Zoom classes, challenges, home obstacles, health-related problems and even more Zoom with the MET program required a lot of resilience. 

The students walked through the door dressed to impress, along with their guests, parents or guardians. They welcomed the combination of fresh air and an in-person sit down luncheon, which featured Relish’s famous skillet fried chicken, well-seasoned string beans and their delicious mashed potatoes, along with the house “melt in your mouth” lemon pound cake.

 Program administrator Rita Hill served as moderator and kept the program on point and timely.  As with almost every closing ceremony, the organization’s history must be set forth for those who do not know what the program is about or want to learn more, as well as what their child was really engaged in throughout this past year. It was a pleasure to have First Lady Katie Brayboy and Pastor Emmitt Brayboy Sr. of Holy Temple Church,who led us in a much-needed powerful prayer and the blessing of the food. Afterwards, the lineup consisted of various MET program staff, training instructors and guest presenters.  

Students who participated in the year-long Management & Environmental Technologies program who received special Certificates of Completion during the ceremony.

It was indeed a pleasure to hear the lovely and passionate voice of the MET president andCEO Dr. Brenda Mitchell, who spoke about the beginnings of the organization, followed by James Allen, community outreach coordinator, Ken Dunkley, vice president and senior technology manager, Anita Edmond, administrator coordinator and Arlene Roberts, MET financial administrator and trainer. The METWorks year-long program was benchmarked by the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) for 25 youths to be enrolled in the program and they met that requirement. 

During the program,  students Mijae Carter and Taahir Scott provided the speaker introductions. Remarks were made by Alexis Forth of Mindset of an Entrepreneur; Richard Washington, founder of Bringing Everybody Together (BET) and a motivational speaker; Cleous Young, author, and Lateefah M. Shakir, district office director for State Representative Donna Bullock, (D-195thDist.).  The impressive remarks from all the above were refreshing and not taken lightly as each one brought pertinent facts and inspiration to the room full of attendees, who were giving them their undivided attention.

“For the youth, the closing ceremony was pleasantly unexpected!” parent Nakima Bell said. “The program praised, acknowledged and respected each one of the kids and their achievements.  I’m looking forward to continuing my daughter’s affiliation with the program.”

(From left) Samir Atkins, Angie Atkins, First Lady Katie Brayboy, and Pastor Emmitt Brayboy Sr.

This representative, Veronica Norris (Ms. V), stakeholder referral of the METWorks program, had the wonderful honor of introducing the program’s keynote speaker, the Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal. Thunderous applause came after her requested 20-minute speech, which did what we wanted it to do. 

Sheriff Bilal spoke about  her upbringing, struggles,  goals, and  accomplishments.  She impressed upon the audience —especially the youth — to never give up, keep striving, and more importantly, work hard for what you want to do and who and what you want to be.

RESILIENCE! Afterwards, the Sheriff’s office distributed tote bags filled with an array of goodies and important literature to the youth.

(From left) Hyneaf Lewis’ mother, Elijah Joel Bazemore’s grandmother, Elijah Joel Bazemore’s mother, Elijah Joel Bazemore (youth); Cleous Young, mentor to Hyneaf Lewis, and Hyneaf Lewis (youth).

 After enjoying a scrumptious lunch and excellent remarks, it was time to recognize youth through special awards and participation.  Sherri Horsey-Darden, publisher of the SCOOP Newspaper, gave five SCOOP Youth Community Achievement Awards, which consisted of certificates and $100 each to Mijae Carter, Samir Atkins, Marcellous Jacobs, Meelah Smith and Isaiah Wright.  Ken Dunkley of METWorks distributed the 21st Century Learning Skills: Excellence Awards to five youths, who received certificates and a $25 gift card.

The recipients were: Mijae Carter, Samir Atkins, Taahir Scott, Marcellous Jacobs and Isaiah Wright.  A special $25 gift card was given to Izamarry Lopez for attendance and completing all assignments.  Every youth left with a participation certificate from Anita Edmond and a special “Certificate of Completion of the Pandemic Playlist & Entrepreneurship Workshop,”from Alexis “Lex Dime ” Forth, CEO of the Lost Girls Campaign.

The METWorks year-long 2021 Virtual Training Internship & Job/Career Readiness Program was an investment in our youth’s future.  While attending their training sessions and Saturday in-person check-ins following CDC guidelines, they were able to earn $9.00 per hour, certainly easing some hardships that they and their families were facing — and continue to face — as we navigate daily through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anita Edmond, Dion Ross (youth) and Rita Hill, Esq.

 On behalf of the entire MET program, we want to take the opportunity to acknowledge Kiona Burpee, entrepreneurship training instructor; Catherine Hicks, publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and staff for their support of the METWorks program.  A special thanks goes to Sherri Horsey Darden, publisher of the SCOOP newspaper.  A tremendous special thank you goes to the Honorable Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, Justice System Lead.  We would also like to give special thanks to the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), parents and guardians, and especially to our youth.  Hats off to the Relish establishment, Bynum Brothers, Zoe Ashby, and staff!

 We would also like to thank MET’s guest presenters: Tiffany Roberts, Andre Chaney, Chamar Cooper, Cleous Young, Lin Thomas, Jacqueline Edmond, Syeed Briscoe, Richard Washington, Darlene Walker, Jeffrey Smith, Amir Potts, Pamela Thornton, Michael Rice and Rhona Austin, as well as volunteers, Nicole Smith, Mercedes Norris, Mijae Carter and Anyia Norris.

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