Mount Vernon launches summer work program allowing teens to join city's workforce

Mount Vernon's Youth Summer Employment program is in-person and at full capacity for the first time in two years.
The city kicked off the summer program on the steps of City Hall Thursday morning following a school year marred with violence and tragedy.
"We want you to stay focused, we want you to stay diligent," said Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard.
Mount Vernon High School cheerleader Kayla Green, who was stabbed to death by a fellow student in April, was employed through the program last year.
"When we got the news, it was shocking," said Debbie Burrell-Butler, executive director of the Youth Bureau. "She was a beautiful individual and her life was taken too soon."
Burrell-Butler said the tragedy shows the importance of not only giving teens opportunities but also providing a safe place for them to seek help.
"We are trying to let all of our youth know about the programs and services we have so something like that doesn't happen again," she said.
More than 200 teens will be assigned jobs at departments throughout the city, including police, Department of Public Works and youth summer camps.
Teens participating said the program helps them stay out of trouble and gain real-world experience that will prepare them for the workforce.
"My main hope, is just get through life, figure out where I am going to go and what I am going to do," said Jaylen Ross, rising high school senior.
Teens participating in this program make a minimum of $15 an hour during this six-week long program.