Pacific edition, Thursday, June 21, 2007

Misawa Air Base teen center director Abraham Hobson said summer is typically the busiest time of the year for his programs because school is out, but that’s not the case this year.

“A lot of kids are going home for the summer,” he said. “Once they found out they weren’t going to be working for the summer … they went back to see family, travel.”

A few are sticking around, however, and gaining work experience — though not a wage — through the VolunTeen Program. There are 40 positions open across the base.

Student volunteers can earn $4 in college scholarship money for every hour of that volunteer work — up to $1,000 for four years of high school — through Youth Employment Skills program, or Y.E.S., a program underwritten by the Air Force Aid Society. Yokota Air Base and Kadena Air Base also offer similar volunteer opportunities and scholarship dollars.

Roanne Henson, 17, of Misawa said she was disappointed there was no summer hire program. But she was still looking forward to getting some job experience as a volunteer.

“I like exploring different things, seeing what opportunities can help me,” she said Monday while attending the VolunTeen Program orientation with 22 other students. “I’m undecided what I want do in college so this helps me out.”

Brandon Bledsoe, 16, signed up to be a student volunteer “just to have fun, help out,” he said. But a paid job would have been his first choice.

“I was looking forward to working and doing summer hire,” he said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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