By Y. Denise Caldwell, Community and Family Resource Coordinator, North Region

lunch n learnM.H. was the first to arrive. Determined to attend, and knowing he didn’t have transportation, he’d slept at his sister’s house because she lived closer to the parole office and was able and willing to give him a ride.

“I want to finish school and get a job,” he said.   “Coming to this will help me do that.”

The “WFS Lunch and Learn” event that M.H. was so eager to attend offered TJJD parole youth in Tarrant County the opportunity to talk to Tarrant County Workforce Solutions Career Navigators Nancy Cerda and Jordan Fields about the Rise Up program and other services.

Participants also enjoyed lunch, donated by the neighborhood Subway restaurant, earned 15 community service hours, met with their parole officer and were given a certificate of participation for attending the midday meeting last week at the Fort Worth District Office.

Four youth, M.H., S.A., M.S., and I.P. attended the event and according to WFS Career Navigator were receptive to the one-on-one interaction and support being offered.

“In fact,” she said later, “one youth has already called and is interested in enrolling in a program.”

Everyone agreed that the event was informative, beneficial and fun.

Parole officers Natasha Johnson and Keniedra Harris, Workforce Development Reentry Specialist Angela Barry worked together and with TJJD’s Community and Family Resources department to create this session helping youth understand the opportunities in front of them.

Both parole officers were pleased with the participation and interaction, only lamenting that more youth were unable to attend.

Workforce specialist Barry plans to work with TJJD to repeat the event in Tarrant and other counties in the region.