City Scenes: A 21-Year-Old Finds A Job, And A Mentor
JEFFREY B. COHEN
November 06, 2009
There's a gaping hole in the road where Albany Avenue and Edgewood Street meet, a 16-foot-deep pit lined with steel that keeps the earthen walls intact as contractors work below.
Kewayn Hudson, wearing a hard hat, stands and watches.
He does a lot of that. His 30-hour-a-week, $8-an-hour training job with the Metropolitan District Commission begins most days by keeping track of equipment and people.
But he's not certified to do the MDC's sewer work, and he doesn't belong to the union. So he watches and asks questions of his boss, Joseph Mancini, who calls him "Key."
What began as a summer job training program through the Blue Hills Civic Association and Capital Workforce Partners has expanded to take Hudson, 21, through next September.
When he's done, he'll try for a $20-an-hour laborer's job. That's one payoff. Pride is another.
"A lot of people older than me, probably around Joe's age, say, 'How'd you get in there?'" Hudson said, as an excavator worked a few feet away earlier this fall. A short distance away, two unspent cartridges litter the street. "And these people, they hang around the package stores and hang out on corners all day. They see me; I get out of the MDC truck with a badge and a hard hat." He smiled and pulled his safety vest tight like a suit coat. "I feel good."
It didn't have to go this way. Hudson left home when he was 16 and got into trouble. "When I met him," Mancini said, "he said, 'Joe, I see the path I'm going and it leads to nowhere.'"
Hudson, of East Hartford, now lives on Barbour Street with his grandmother and great-grandmother. He decided to make money the "right way."
"That's when I signed up for this program and met Joe," he said. "Ever since then, I've been on a roll."
It's one they're on together.
"I don't have any kids," Mancini said. "My parents emigrated from Italy. My older brother was born in Italy. I had a rough bringing up, but I always had people that I looked up to, they always gave me helping hands, words of encouragement. That's what I told Key. ... You're going to be under my wing for a couple of months and I'll do the best I can."
"Joe is really like a father figure to me," Hudson said. "He takes care of me. He lets me borrow money when I need to, you know what I'm saying? Not a lot of people going to let you borrow money."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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