At-risk, homeless Mat-Su teens find work through Nine Star
For at-risk youth in the Mat-Su, finding work can be difficult when they're struggling with homelessness. Nine Star Education and Employment Services makes it easier for teens and young adults to get job skills and get off the streets.
A month into his internship at 107.1 KHITZ-FM, 19-year-old Thomas Stahl is learning what it takes to work in radio.
"It's pretty challenging and I don't understand most of it, but I'm getting there and I'm figuring it out as I go," Stahl said.
The staff are teaching him a wide range of skills from producing promos to office work and scheduling ads. Stahl found the internship after he reached out to MyHouse, a nonprofit that works to get teens out of homelessness. He said he spent six months couch surfing to get by.
"It's lonely and uncomfortable not having a place to go," he said.
Through MyHouse's partnership with Nine Star, he was able to get a job in just a few days.
"They really helped me out and kind of got me on my feet and now I can pay rent and I have my own apartment," he said.
Nine Star helps more than 300 youth like Stahl every year. Youth employment service director Roger Hamacher said the organization provides the funding for the internships and the businesses provide a good learning environment.
"We love working with the radio station because they've been willing to take on youth that are not competitive in the traditional work force. They maybe don't have the skills someone would have that would get them to the point of having an interview," Hamacher said.
KHITZ program director T. Marteen has worked with Nine Star for decades, but Stahl is the first intern he's had at this radio station.
"Without Nine Star, so many kids would have no future and no opportunities," Marteen said. "There are so little for children who don't have the educational background or family background to advance themselves. Here they give them food, education, clothing, a home."
Stahl said he's still figuring out what he wants to do for a career but he finally sees a future for himself.
"I feel like I'm getting somewhere, I'm not just on the streets," he said.
Nine Star is hosting an event Friday, Feb. 1 where people can meet youth who will share their success stories from the program at Williwaw in Anchorage from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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