Written by Aaron Cheris
When Thomas Cerna and his wife were going on a one-week vacation last summer, they found themselves in a dilemma. Their plants had to be watered, and the girl they usually hired to do the job was also going away that week. After his plants didn’t get water for a week, Cerna had an idea to make sure that never happened again.
The idea was simple: create a website for homeowners to post jobs that need to be done and local youths could respond to job listings.
“It would have been a good thing if we could have had a way to reach out to local kids in the community,” Cerna, 54, said.
“You could have a homeowner post a job to the site and a registered job seeker could see those jobs and apply to them,” Cerna said.
To be eligible to work, a Youthire must be between 16 and 26 years old.
“It encompasses high school students, college students and after college,” Cerna said.
He made the age range because of the high rate of people graduating college without work, and he says this could help lower that rate.
One of the main goals of Youthire.com is to keep the locals together.
“We want to keep the community feature so that the homeowner would know that the person that they are hiring is someone within the community,” said Cerna.
Instead of paying professionals for mowing lawns or other yard work, Cerna encourages homeowners to look for youths in their neighborhood.
“It’s not only kids being able to make money, but it’s also something that could bring the community together,” he said.
Cerna has been on both ends of the spectrum. When he was a teenager at Mamaroneck High School in Westchester, he did odd jobs to earn extra money. At school, he frequently visited the Youth Employment Services (YES) office to get jobs to keep himself busy.
“When you combine that experience in high school with this dilemma that we found ourselves in this past summer, it clicked,” he said. “There seemed to be a supply of jobs when I was in high school with the homeowners calling in jobs; it provided me with income, money in my pocket, and I had money on my weekends so I didn’t have to ask parents for money.”
Now, Cerna is on the hiring end. However, when hiring a Youthire, homeowners have the benefit of seeing a profile of the candidates. All Youthires must register with the site and create a profile, which, as Cerna says, “acts as a snapshot.” Each Youthire must provide a photo, the school they attend or attended, their age, and background information such as what skills may be useful.
Cerna himself recently hired a Youthire to help build a fence for his backyard: a member of the local football team to assist with the heavy lifting. The profile page made it easy for Cerna to choose the right person, and the work was done in a day. He says about 60 young adults have signed up at the site looking for work, and around 55 homeowners have also signed up to be job providers.
A former branch manager of a brokerage firm, Cerna has now made Youthire.com his full-time job.
“When I came up with this idea, I thought this is something that I could really go with and devote all my time, energy and money towards. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 12 months,” he said.
Cerna’s work has been worth it up to this point, and he expects an increase when schools end for the summer.
For more information, visit Youthire.com