In my work with teens in foster care, I learned that the one thing they all had in common was that they wanted a good life, something many of them had never experienced. The other thing they shared was the same three common hurdles a lot of people have:
- I don’t believe in myself
- I don’t have any money or time
- I don’t know how.
It broke my heart to see how they struggled to try to find jobs and to try to hold on to it once they had one and how difficult it was to see what little self-esteem they established dissolve when they weren’t able to maintain the job. This wasn’t okay with me. I knew they could have success if they had an opportunity and support. I believed in them and provided that opportunity.
I offered to help them start a summer business so they could learn what it was like to have your own business. I was met with comments like we don’t believe we can do it, don’t have money and don’t know how.
We talked about what things they loved to do, what some of their favorite summer things were. One young woman said she liked to eat at vendor booths at festivals and fairs and the others jumped on that. We contacted Island Smoothies to see how much it would cost to buy the ingredients to make smoothies at the fair. The price was good and the sales representative said they would provide the professional smoothie maker as long as we paid for the product.
A local festival told us they were expecting 5000 people to come that summer so we paid for a booth, purchased the product and learned how to make smoothies. There were so many valuable lessons from that experience. In reality, only about 300 people came to the event. In spite of the low numbers we sold more than 225 smoothies which percentage wise, was an enormous success. The kids worked hard bringing customers to our table and our product was top quality. Even though each team member only made a small share to take home, they did make profit, they learned that percentage of sales was more significant than the dollar amount and that they had to be cost effective in order to make a profit. All in all, it was a great experience.
They learned that you can learn to believe in yourself if you give yourself a chance to prove you can whatever you set out to; they learned that you can reach out for help to finance your efforts, and they experienced that you can learn how with some research and a good support system.
These kids then went out into the community with more self-esteem, a great credit for their resume and a better attitude. They not only found jobs, but hope for the future by learning to jump these hurdles.
In the next few posts this month, I’ll be writing more about how to help teens jump these hurdles.