Thursday Nov 10th, 2016
When he was 16, his mother gave him a stack of papers that included a YouthWorks application. “She was like ‘OK, I’m tired of you sitting on your butt all summer so it’s time for you to get a job,’” Carr recalls with a smile.
Spend some time with Harold Carr III, a part-time employee in University Recreation and Fitness (URecFit), and several words come to mind. Driven. Dedicated. Engaging. Easygoing. Humorous.
One word that does not come to mind is shy. “Sometimes I think I talk too much,” Carr admits on the fourth floor of the SMC Campus Center where he works. “People smile so I just keep on rambling.”
That is a far cry from 2011 when Carr first came to UMB as a YouthWorks intern as part of the city’s eight-week summer program that UMB has been a part of for more than 25 years. “When I started at YouthWorks I didn’t really know how to talk to people,” Carr recalls. “I went to a high school that was strictly African-American. We had one white male. But since I came to YouthWorks and they put me in a situation where I see all shades, all colors, all cultures — it helped me grow.”
Carr has grown to the point where he works at URecFit 6 to 9 in the morning three days a week, and then goes to Coppin State University, where he is a senior majoring in criminal justice. He also has a part-time security job as he aspires to follow his family tradition as a police officer.
Camille Givens-Patterson, equal employment opportunity specialist in the Office of Accountability and Compliance, knew Carr was a keeper when she met him while he was attending Baltimore City Community College. “The one characteristic that set Harold apart was his personality,” she says. “He is constantly upbeat, positive, and extremely personable. He always sees the bright side of life. He takes advantage of every opportunity given him.”
So when he came to UMB and was assigned to URecFit he jumped into the work whether it was giving tours, ID access, checking the condition of the gym and locker room, or simply folding towels. He did it so well that when his YouthWorks internship was over, Meghan Bruce-Bojo, assistant director of client relations, wasted no time hiring him as a permanent part-timer. “Harold had a welcoming presence,” Bruce-Bojo recalls. “I couldn’t wait to hire him once YouthWorks ended for the summer.” It wasn’t the first time Carr, who said he wouldn’t be at URecFit without the YouthWorks internship, had benefited from the city program. When he was 16, his mother gave him a stack of papers that included a YouthWorks application. “She was like ‘OK, I’m tired of you sitting on your butt all summer so it’s time for you to get a job,’” Carr recalls with a smile. He wound up doing a YouthWorks internship at Liberty Recreation Center in Gwynn Oak. “It was perfect, a recreation center five minutes away from my house. I didn’t have to do too much, just wake up and work with the kids.”
Before he got too comfortable, Carr was lectured about the importance of moving up and moving on by the rec center director Wanda Johnson, who would become his first mentor. “She said the max amount of time I want you to work here is a few years because I want to see you grow and I want to see you progress in life,” says Carr, smiling at the memory. “Miss Wanda is still working there to this day.”
Outcomes & Benefits
And following her advice, Carr has moved on to Coppin State, a security job, and UMB, where he is grateful to have found mentors like Givens-Patterson, Bruce-Bojo, Fash McKnight (formerly of URecFit), Jole’ Gibson (Interprofessional Student Learning & Service Initiatives), and Nicole Freeman (University of Maryland Medical Center). “I molded all the information they gave me and took it in to build my own little castle,” Carr says.
In addition to a flexible schedule and great mentors, the URecFit job has other side benefits. “I get to use the facilities,” says Carr, whose muscular frame shows he works out there often. What’s his favorite piece of equipment? “Dumbbells, you can’t go wrong with dumbbells,” Carr says with a huge smile.
It’s that smile that has won over his colleagues. Bill Crockett, MS, RCRSP, executive director of URecFit, calls Carr “the most engaging guy I’ve ever met.” And to think, UMB wouldn’t have known Carr if not for YouthWorks. “I am so proud of Harold Carr,” says GivensPatterson. “This is what YouthWorks is all about.”
The hands-on, work readiness program coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Employment certainly has allowed this Carr to change lanes. “I definitely would recommend YouthWorks,” he says. “I give them an A-plus!”
This success story is a University of Maryland monthly newsletter entry. It was written by Chris Zang, and was featured in November 2016 issue.