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Young Men in Port Chester Need Jobs

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- It was pushing 90 degrees outside Monday afternoon and the air above the asphalt pulsated with heat. Down on the corner of Irving Avenue and Poningo Street a group of young men sat in the shade in front of a closed barbershop drinking malt liquor beverages.

"These boys here are good people," said a woman named Johnnie-Mae sitting among them as a surrogate aunt, her head wrapped in a black scarf. "They just need a job so they can support themselves."

Johnnie-Mae said she has seen many of these young men grow up in the neighborhood. Most of them were born in United Hospital during the '80s and '90s before it was shut down in 2005. None of them felt comfortable giving their full names.

One of them is a young man named Jay, 19. He graduated from Greenwich High School last year and has been looking for work ever since.

He shared that he moved with his mother from Port Chester to Greenwich when he was in seventh grade and she had hoped he would get a better education and have more opportunities.

Now Jay is back in Port Chester, hopping from home to home between friends or girlfriends. He is expecting his first child in September.

"I'm not ready," he said. "But I've got to step up to the plate."

Jay said he has applied to work at large commercial businesses like Costco, Home Goods and Kohl's but hasn't received any calls.

"I try to help them out with their resumes," said Johnnie-Mae. "But some of these places already know they're not going to hire them as soon as they walk out the door."

In order to make some money once in a while Jay gathers recyclables and scrap metal. In the past, he said he has dealt drugs.

"That's not the life I want to live," he said. "I want to work, I'll do any kind of job."

He recently applied to Wal-Mart in White Plains and until he hears back he’ll be spending the summer days sitting on the street corner with his friends, who are all hoping for jobs too.

"They have no place else to go," said Johnnie-Mae. "This is all they have."

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