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WOONSOCKET â€“ A throng of children sits in a circle around Arkaydia Farrow as she clutches an open book in one hand, trying to read a story and make eye contact with her rapt audience at the same time.
When Farrow isnâ€™t telling stories, sheâ€™s helping this crop of six- to eight-year-olds practice their writing skills, shepherding them on field trips or managing an arts & crafts project.
In her first paid job, Farrow, 18, relishes her role as mentor and cheerleader to children while theyâ€™re in their formative years, some of them from troubled, broken families.
â€śTo see the kids smile, it makes my day better,â€ť she says. â€śIt helps the kids, too, to show them the difference between right and wrong.â€ť
But Farrow says she probably wouldnâ€™t be working at all were it not for the Summer Youth Employment Program. Gov. Lincoln Chafee dedicated $2 million to the program, which has trickled down to myriad private and non-profit employers, including the Boys & Girls Club of Woonsocket, where Arkaydia earns about $140 a week before taxes.
She found out about the opportunity from Family Resources Community Action Program over six months ago while taking part in an after-school program.
And sheâ€™s glad she did. If Family Resources hadnâ€™t reached out, she says, she doubts she would have even looked for a job this summer. Without few applicable work skills, experience or even a resume, sheâ€™s convinced the effort would have been fruitless.
Now sheâ€™s got a little extra money in her pocket. She also did something else she never did before â€“ opened a bank account.
Read more in our print edition.