By Breanna Edwards, The Root
A group of Georgia teens landed themselves summer jobs with the LaGrange (Ga.) Housing Authority after explaining to its head, Zsa Zsa Heard, that they were trying to stay out of trouble, KHOU11 reports.
According to Heard in a Facebook post Wednesday, she was approached by the four teens while working in her office.
When Heard asked the boys why they wanted jobs, she said she was shocked to hear that they were trying to avoid gangs.
“I want Facebook to empower these young men they walked into my office today and asked for a job. I said why do you want a job? They said so we [won’t] get in trouble and we do not want to be in a gang! I said have people approached you about being in a gang they said yes’mam!” Heard wrote in her Facebook post with a picture of the teens.
She said she hired all four boys, Dylik, Dennis, Deion and Jalen, who are all between the ages of 13 and 14, on the spot.
According to KHOU11, Heard said that the four boys lived on the housing authority property and that it was not the first time that they had approached her for a job, though she had never asked why.
Heard told the news station that around Thanksgiving and Christmas break, the boys had come to ask her if there was any work they could help with, and she ended up pairing them with a maintenance worker at the facility who showed them basic carpentry skills.
However, since finding out the boys’ motive, Heard has kept the group busy. They help in the community garden picking vegetables and tending to the community’s chicken coop. They also pass out mail and do other deliveries.
“They will do whatever you ask them to do. Whatever you need, they will do it,” Heard said. For payment, the boys have a prepaid card for which they earn money for the chores they do.
“Several of their teachers [Facebook-]inboxed me and told me what good kids they were,” she said. “They said if you give them the support they need, they are going to be successful.”
And Heard said she is more than willing to give that support.
“If they feel that they’re valuable, and if we show them how important they are, then we don’t risk losing them,” Heard told KHOU11. “I don’t want them to seek the love and attention from the negative. I want them to find their value in other things.”
The boys will be included in a teen leadership and mentorship program, which will check in with them throughout the year, Heard added. And although the boys go back to school next week, Heard said that they will have jobs waiting for them as long as they want during any other breaks.