Job Helps Teen Look to the Future After a Challenging Past
Most teens probably would not want to spend a big chunk of their summer at the library, but Pajas Erickson enjoys going to the Kalkaska County Library every day because she is there for her first real job. She obtained the job through the Northwest Michigan Works! Summer Youth Employment program.
"To have a job is something I'm really grateful for, but to have this job is even better," said Erickson. "I'm ridiculously in love with my job and the people I work with are amazing."
Having her first real job is helping Pajas look to the future after a very challenging childhood. When she was younger she had to deal with homelessness and physical and mental abuse. When she was 11 years old she was taken away from her mother and was raised by her grandmother.
"Having this job has showed me that I can have hope and dreams and do things that I want to do without having to face homelessness, or being hungry, or not having money," said Erickson.
"I'm constantly amazed at all the things she's gone through and the person that she is," said Bradley Chaplin, the director of the Kalkaska County Library. "At some point you have to realize we write our own book in life and she's definitely taken charge of it and is doing the right thing."
Pajas is going to Northwestern Michigan College in the fall where she will major in biology. She will also be working at the NMC library, a job she landed with the help of a glowing recommendation from her current boss. With so much to look forward to, you would think Pajas would be eager to forget her past, but she says she actually uses those memories for motivation.
"I really push myself with the memories and they help me and remind me to be strong and that I can do things and accomplish things," said Erickson. "I think about them almost every day to remind myself that I'm okay and that things are going to be different."
Related Info: Michigan Works! Youth Services
Networks Northwest always proves to be a valued resource for our local government planning efforts. No organization does a better job of convening partners, promoting collaboration, and reporting on the data than does Networks Northwest
- Ty Wessell, Leelanau County Commissioner