By Michelle Gladden

ASBURY PARK – Four eighth-grade students are in the midst of on the job training made possible through a PILOT granted during the Lakehouse complex expansion on Lake Avenue.

PILOTs, or rather payment in lieu of taxes, are tax abatement agreements that stay full tax payments for a period of time. In the last two years, the Asbury Park City Council began mandating a workforce development component be attached to all PILOT agreements moving forward. They include last year’s Salt School as part of The Asbury development.

Working in partnership with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel [OLMC] on Asbury Avenue, Lakehouse has paired students to new and existing businesses within its complex. In turn the school launched a Community Internship Program via its All Stars 21st Century Community Learning Center Program.

The students, whose last names were not provided by the school, include Sarahi P. who is at Lakehouse Music Academy, Lesly M. at Boho Hair Salon, Allan M. at Cowerks, and Brayan C. at Blade and Swagger Barbershop.

Each student is working with his or her business for one hour per week during a period of three months, said Connie Isbell, director of OLMC’s All Stars Program. The goal of the Community Internship Program is to give All Stars real world experience, an opportunity to develop critical soft skills, and a chance to get to know and learn from members of the Asbury Park business community.

“Given the All Stars three-year relationship with Lakehouse Music Academy, we felt comfortable piloting our internship program within their complex,” Isbell said. “Many All Stars students have attended classes at Lakehouse, and the businesses were all interested in mentoring OLMC students.

Internship Advisor Michelle Masarik oversees the student/business relationship, accompanying  the group each week and periodically checking in on the students while they are working. She also trains the students in essential soft skills, such as interviewing, communication, and professionalism.

In turn, each student keeps a journal of their experience, and the group is working on a final project to showcase their internship experience. Their internship work includes everything from watering plants and stocking supplies to greeting customers and scheduling appointments.

“It didn’t take long for the students to discover that no job or task is small or
unimportant,” Masarik said. “Each experience teaches them a skill that can be carried forward to other jobs and future careers.”

Isbell said they hope to expand the Community Internship Program.

“We hope to grow our program over the next several years and eventually be able to offer this opportunity to more OLMC eighth graders through an expanded range of Asbury businesses,” she said.

For more information about the All Stars 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, contact Isbell at 908-675- 5884 or cisbell@olmcapnj.org.

[Photos courtesy of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel]

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