Social Skills a Key Part of Success

By Weathersbee, Tonyaa | The Florida Times Union, July 13, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Social Skills a Key Part of Success

Weathersbee, Tonyaa, The Florida Times Union

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

At one time, it was fashionable to simply teach job skills and ways to survive economically to youths whose exposure to the extras in life was limited by their parents' wages.

But now, youths who live in restricted-income communities that are owned by Vestcor Inc., are being taught how to survive socially.

For more than a year now, Esmin Master, social services director for Vestcor, has been operating a program for youths that goes beyond academic enrichment and computer literacy. With the help of Kezia Justice of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, Master has been grooming youths in the ways of table and telephone manners, appropriate handshakes and diction.

"This is necessary, because if you're not groomed in these skills, you can have strong academics and still be a misfit in the corporate community," Master said. "Many times, you can be weeded out because of poor diction.

"We're showing them how to interact in society. One young man told me: 'I didn't know there were different handshakes, and I didn't know that it could affect you.' "

All of the youths' etiquette exposure will culminate in a cotillion ball Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Household of Faith Convention Center. About 20 youths from a number of Vestcor properties will participate. For more information or to donate, call 260-3030.

"Our young people have been very responsive," said Master, who has been busy helping the youths coordinate car washes and other fund-raisers for the big night.

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