Friendship Community Care held an awards ceremony this past week at the Reynolds Center in Pine Bluff to honor and recognize youths and employers who have completed their summer work program.


Friendship Community Care is a nonprofit organization serving children and adults in Arkansas with disabilities and complex support needs.


Through the Arkansas Promise Program, youths were chosen to participate in a summer work program sponsored by FCC, with employers across Pine Bluff volunteering to help.


FCC paid each youth’s hourly wage and insurance.


According to arpromise.org, Arkansas PROMISE is part of a new program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help youths who are receiving disability benefits and their families improve their educational and employment outcomes. This project is being implemented in 11 states. In Arkansas, the program is being administered by the Department of Education and the University of Arkansas, in partnership with several other state agencies and private organizations. A team of researchers at Mathematica Policy Research is evaluating the program. Approximately 2,000 youths in Arkansas will be in the evaluation.


“Every student that participated in the program exceeded the amount of hours (200) required of them,” said Katie Baker, director of FCC. “That is something for your city (Pine Bluff) to brag about.”


The awards ceremony was hosted by Danny Burl Sr., FCC career advisor, who expressed that he made sure to pair each youth with an employer that is aligned with what they hope to do in the future.


“We wanted to give a personal touch to the program this year,” Burl said. “I went to each of our youth’s homes and talked with each of them and their families about what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.”


During the event, awards and $200 bonuses were given to each of the youths who completed the program. An award was also given to each of the employers who participated in the program.


The employers and employees expressed gratitude for the time they were allowed to work together. Employers acknowledged the growth they had witnessed in their summer youth employees and the lessons taught and learned.


The youths and employers recognized at the ceremony are as follows:Dayvion Barnes employed by Charles Anderson HomesDaylyn Canada was recognized as the Outstanding Employee of the summer. He was employed by Fathers and Sons Clothier.Davion Collier employed by Cheers! At the BBQ HutCurnetta Garrett employed by Garden Pointe Davis Life CenterJaelan Gonder employed by Parks and RecreationAmari Hamilton employed by Brothers in Christ ConstructionDe’Mauria Hill employed by Collins EnterprisesKamryn Martin employed by United Way of Southeast ArkansasTrinity Pippenger employed by United Way of Southeast ArkansasQuintin Toomer employed by Novel T’s. The business was recognized as the Outstanding employer of the summer.Nikki Tosca employed by Precious MomentsLatasha Walker employed by ABC LearningJacory Walton employed by Parks and Recreation