The Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA recently opened its new summer program, Employee U, which helps teenagers prepare for employment opportunities.

Employee U is a volunteer-based program where kids, ages 14 through 18 years old, volunteer within the different departments at the YMCA.

Sandra Franks, executive director, said Employee U benefits volunteers by giving them the tools needed to find a job. For many it gives them a chance to build on their resume and show future employers they are qualified for the workforce.

“We just saw a need to help them with getting a job … we’re trying to help fill that gap,” she said. “They’re learning the skills that set them apart when they go to apply for that first job. The struggle is when they go apply for that first job they don’t have anything to put on a resume, but after completing this program they can say they have volunteered here at the Y and they learn service skills. They already have something to put on their resume, even before starting their first job.”

Some departments consist of working within the summer programs, the front desk, the childcare department and the gym facility. The program is structured as if volunteers are working at the YMCA, and receive a weekly schedule on when they will be volunteering.

More than 41 volunteers have signed up for Employee U and volunteer at the YMCA Monday through Saturday. Volunteers are required to complete at least 12 hours per week, and can accumulate more than 30 hours per week.

Connie Nelson-Askew, who oversees Employee U, said the camp was able to teach volunteers how to become better employees, and has a large amount of parent support.

“We want them to do something that they can feel good about, and want to teach them to take responsibility for volunteering,” she said.

Along with volunteering at the YMCA, participants attend workshops every Wednesday afternoon where they learn different skills such as leadership building, financial management and skill building.

Kivory Price, who volunteers at the front desk, said he wanted to attend Employee U because it gave him a chance to build on his resume.

“It looks good on a resume and looks good when applying for college,” he said. “I like interacting with the people.” Price, who will be a freshman at Desert Vista High School, said he also plans on getting a job at the YMCA, and Employee U would help out with the application process.

For more information about the Employee U program, visit

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