I have lived and worked with children in the area for my entire life, but only last year heard about YETE, Youth Empowerment Through Employment, when I was asked to teach its classes.

YETE has the data to support making the Waterville area better by turning young teens around and giving them the skills to gain employment.

Everyone, including myself, gets caught up in the stories of people being given handouts, not having the skills to work and cheating the system. YETE takes 20 Waterville and Winslow high school students and in an 18-week after-school class setting, gives them the skills to manage money, fill out paperwork, build a resume and practice interviewing. These students then go out into area businesses and get on-the-job training for the summer.

We all should agree about the merits of this approach, as society understands the value of employment.

People should learn, like I did, that YETE an outstanding program that changes lives. Teens might be working behind the scenes of an opera house event, working on a farm, at an area car dealership, welding or sitting in an area financial institution, brainstorming ways to improve services for youth. Teens might be employed at the animal shelter or in a downtown store. They are earning money. Employers often ask them to stay on after their summer work, or return after schooling.

YETE is run by Youth Matter on Main Street in Waterville. Check its website, www.youthmatter.net.

Steve Soule

Waterville