Church St. lemonade stand serves up workforce training
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The King Street Center Lemonade Stand has been serving up refreshing drinks during the summer for more than two decades, but the business venture is providing more than just some spending cash for the kids who staff it. The main goal is to prepare them for jobs that will pay the bills down the road.
For a group of teens at the King Street Center, their summer gig is more sweet than sour. The King Street Center Lemonade Stand has been set up on Church Street for the past 25 years and gives local kids an opportunity to try their hand at customer service. Kids like 13-year-old Mohamed Abdirahman of Burlington.
“Interacting with the customers and seeing what they talk about and how they like Burlington and all that -- it’s amazing. I’m surprised how people come to a small state other than bigger states out there,” Abdirahman said. It’s his second year working at the stand after starting in the 6th grade. “It’s my last year and my last shift, actually. I’m just trying to make it count for today.”
Abdirahman turns 14 next month, which is legally when teens can get a job in Vermont. It’s also the age cut-off for the lemonade stand crew, which is made to prepare kids ages 12 to 14 for jobs in Vermont’s workforce. It’s part of the King Street Center’s Teen Program, according to executive director Shabnam Nolan. “We have youth come into the building to have programming and academic support, but also connect them to opportunities so they have successful futures as well,” Nolan said.
Because it’s a job training program, the kids have the chance to learn the ropes of a customer service job before they turn 14, so they can feel ready when it’s time to get one full-time. “It’s really important that they have the opportunity to just learn what are the skills you need to have any job, really, and then to be able to practice it on the stand during the summer,” Nolan said.
And for kids like Abdirahman, that will give them a leg up on other applicants down the road, and a little money to save or spend this summer while also having some fun with friends. “I feel like Michael Jordan mic’ed up. I feel like an NBA player right now,” Abdirahman said.
“Not only do they get to learn job skills but they get to make money. And I don’t know about you but I don’t know a teen who doesn’t like a little bit of spending money in their pocket,” Nolan said.
The lemonade stand closes up for the season on Friday. They’ll be open from 11 to 6 serving up five flavors of drinks at $3 each.
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