RICHMOND, Va. -- Ahmonte Greene has his sights set on a bright future.
"My goal is to travel the world, learn new cultures, try new foods, travel to different countries, learn new things," Greene said.
Greene got his shot at trying new things last year when he joined the Youth Leadership Employment Academy (YLEA), a program funded and hosted by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA).
Greene worked with maintenance crews in his Hillside Court community and had the chance to hone some valuable business and technical skills.
"Refrigerators, stoves. Working on people's pipes, their bathrooms. A lot of things I did. It taught me some things. Social skills. Working as a team and meeting new people," Greene said.
Green is glad that RRHA is bringing the program back again this summer for students ages eight to 18 who live in public housing. He knows it can be a good distraction from the violent crime that they've seen gripping their neighborhoods.
"I think that's good because it gives kids the opportunity to learn something they haven't learned before. Some kids are in the streets and some just end up dead in a casket so I think RRHA did the right thing by helping these kids out so when they get into the real world, they can do stuff they already know how to do," Greene said.
RRHA's Angela Fountain said last year, that they employed 62 students and plan to double that number this summer. Youth across RRHA can apply to work in various departments.
"The program is not just a work program. It is also a leadership program. With that, they learn various social skills, and they learn various household skills, like budgeting and finance. Every division gets involved. Our administrative offices, whether it's finance or housing choice voucher, whether it's communications, whether it's the executive office. All of our maintenance folks as well. We all get involved and look, if there's a student who wants to work with us, we want to work with them."
Greene believes the skills he learned in the program will help him in the future. He wishes the same for other young people who participate in the YLEA this summer and encourages them with his best advice.
"If any kid has a dream they want to chase, go for it. Don't let nobody tell you that you can't chase your dreams. Because some people don't chase their dreams and they end up dead and in jail. They can do anything if they put their mind to it. That's my best advice to them and my best advice is don't ever give up on something."
Students who live in public housing can now apply for the YLEA online, via social media or by calling their resident services department at their complex.
The deadline to apply is June 15.