In late April, Juma Sacramento held a two-day event to celebrate the close of the recent Sacramento Kings season at Golden 1 Center. They also provided training to help our YouthConnect participants move to the next stage of their employment and educational journeys.
On day one, our team in Sacramento worked with youth development partner, HAWK (Higher Attainment Thru Wisdom and Knowledge) Institute, to provide our youth an all-day training focused on job preparation and career advancement.
The following morning, our youth returned dressed in business attire to participate in mock interviews, for which they received valuable on-the-spot feedback. Four different interviewers—two of whom were potential employers—met with each youth. According to our Sacramento Enterprise Manager, Claire Wheeler, “Everyone was excited and just a bit nervous, but did a great job presenting themselves and all the skills and experience they picked up with Juma.”
Over lunch, they listened to a motivational speech from Juma Sacramento alum Isaias Moreno, who landed a full-time job with benefits at the Department of Motor Vehicles, which he loves, and he encouraged youth to continue on their journey toward a satisfying career.
Finally, each youth received a personalized award that highlighted their strengths. One young person recognized that weekend was Steven Torres, 19, who received a Legendary Character Award for his “Legendary work” from our concessionaire partner Legends.
Before Juma, Steven and his family had been dealing with homelessness—or, as he put it, “bouncing around Sacramento”—moving from homeless shelters in south Sacramento to low-income housing in North Highland, where he now lives with his family.
Steven, who is of Puerto Rican African descent and identifies as Afro-Latino, said Juma provided the direction and stability he needed. When he started, he floated between working as a vendor and cart concessions, but by his second day Claire suggested trying him out at a coffee cart, where he flourished and has since become a cart lead, managing a team.
It was this on-the-job experience that Steven said allowed him to improve his communication skills. And, for a basketball player like him, he said that working at the Golden 1 Center during the Sacramento Kings season has been, as he put simply, “Amazing.”
The weekend celebration was just more evidence of what makes Juma different. “It’s more than just a job and a paycheck,” Steven said. “We came together as a family.” In the fall, Steven plans to attend Sacramento City College to pursue an associate degree in engineering and has plans to transfer to a four-year university to continue his studies.