By Karen Stokes
Coinciding with president and founder Rick Zehetner’s 50th anniversary of working with Emergency Medical Services, Bell Ambulance Foundation donated a gift of $25,000 to Mayor Tom Barrett’s Earn and Learn program. The donation was presented Tuesday afternoon at the Bell Ambulance Station, 1647 N. 4th Street with employees and family in attendance.
Zehetner worked in Emergency Medical Services for 50 years and founded Bell Ambulance 38 years ago which is now the largest ambulance provider in Wisconsin.
Mayor Barrett thanked Zehetner for his leadership and his dedication to the health and safety of Milwaukee residents as he accepted the donation.
“Bell ambulance cares. They care about their employees, they care about the community; This company cares about the community,” said Mayor Barrett.
Earn and Learn is a summer youth program established by Mayor Barrett that partners with Milwaukee area businesses, non-profit, community and faith-based organizations.
The program helps youth ages 14-24 transition successfully from adolescence to adulthood through work experience and job skills.
“If we want to solve the problems we have in this community, it’s going to come from our young people having positive things to do in the summer,” Mayor Barrett said.
“It’s a great program. It’s one of those programs that gives our youth a head start for their first job,” said Bevan Baker, commissioner of health for the city of Milwaukee. “We want kids to apply. For just $2000 we are able to sponsor a kid for the summer and give them the money so they can understand the importance of work and to get a great start in life.”
“The demand for the Earn and Learn program has been great,” said Baker. “Companies like Bell Ambulance provides support to the kids who want to work.”
Even though the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5 percent, young people still struggle to find employment.
The youth unemployment rate for youth aged 16-19 was projected at 16 percent in May 2016. For young adults ages 20-24, the unemployment rate was 8.3 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In a recent survey conducted by JC Morgan Chase, only about 38 percent of teens and young adults looking for summer jobs were able to find work. The survey found that some of the benefits summer jobs provide is income, workforce readiness, skill development and higher graduation rates.
For information on Earn and Learn go to city.Milwaukee.gov