They're young and able -- and ready to make a difference this summer in the lives of area residents who need their help.
Four teen-age boys, ages 13-15, are offering to perform odd jobs, like yard work, for area senior citizens and those who are disabled and unable to do it themselves.
Casey Trandem, coordinator for the Wise Guyz young male responsibility program in Brainerd, wanted the graduates of his program to experience what it was like to help people by volunteering within the community. The program, an educational and job preparation program for young men ages 14-17, teaches its participants how to become more responsible, make better choices and to educate their peers.
So far the program has had about 120 graduates since Trandem took over the program four years ago. While many of the teens end up working and volunteering for area businesses, this is the first time that Trandem decided to create a summer work crew to help individuals who need them. The teens are paid through a federal grant used for the Wise Guyz program.
Trandem said he wants the young men to feel for themselves the benefits of helping others who appreciate their work. The teens, who volunteered to become part of the Wise Guyz summer crew, are excited about the prospect of earning some money and helping others, too.
"We're doing this to help out people," said Justin Matich, 14. "It's a good thing to do. Most old people can't do it for themselves, so that's why we're helping out. It's a good feeling when you help someone."
Trandem said he and his crew will probably work from about 8 a.m. to noon three days a week throughout the summer, maybe performing some minor carpentry work, cleaning yards and other odd jobs. They'll move brush piles, trim trees and other yard work. Trandem said it would work out best if residents had their own equipment for the teens to use.
"Dude, I can rake leaves like none other," said Mitch Paradeis, 13, with a smile. "I'm going pro next year."
The Wise Guyz summer crew also includes Eric Hibbard, 13, and Sam O'Meil, 14.
"I hope it turns into a real positive thing," said Trandem, adding that the summer work also will allow him time to spend mentoring the teens.
Trandem said he wants his crew to help individuals who truly need the help, those who can't do the work themselves.
"I really think that with helping people there's a big difference between mowing the lawn for your parents and mowing for someone who can't do it," said Trandem.
During the winter months, Trandem said his Wise Guyz members have shoveled sidewalks for senior citizens. He hopes the summer program will be a successful venture.
To get some help with yard work or other odd jobs from the Wise Guyz summer crew, call Trandem at 829-1469.
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