White Center teen job fair helps to give kids options, responsibility during summer months

SEATTLE -- During the summer months across the Puget Sound, we normally see an uptick in crime, especially in shootings, drive-bys and auto thefts often committed by teenagers or young adults.

Just last weekend, two teenagers were killed in gun violence in King County.

That’s why Friday’s “Peace in the Hood” job fair became even more important.

Thirteen-year-old Marcus Tupua is on a mission to stay busy over the summer.

“Get better in athletics. Get better in school. And just push myself because I have big goals,” Marcus said.

That’s why he came to the Second Annual 'Peace N the Hood Job Fair' in White Center.  More than 200 kids had a chance to meet with 30 employers.

It was organized by King County Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator Justin Cox to get teenagers jobs so they’re busy and out of trouble.

“A lot of times we expect them to change their course of action without giving them anything better to do,” said Cox.

Two teens were killed last weekend in shootings in SeaTac and Seattle, including 17-year-old Ryan Dela Cruz.  Police say he was the victim of a random shooting.

“Growing up in the area, you’re going to have a lot of pulls, whether it be gang, whether it be drugs, whether it be whatever it is,” said Cox.

So why not let that ‘pull’ be employment.

“Every kid wants to feel like they belong to something and when you give them a job they have a title. They know that this is what I have to do,” said Cox.

At 13, Marcus is too young for a job, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have summer plans.

“I’m an intern at a shake shop in Federal Way so that’s what I’ll be doing this summer,” Marcus said.

The last three summers have been picture-perfect for 18-year-old John Beausilien.

“I’ve worked at KFC. I’ve worked here and I’m currently working at Five Guys right now,” said Beausilien.

Too busy with work and school to get off-track.

“I wanted money, honestly, and it's also good opportunities to get your communication skills up and stuff. So I wanted to take advantage of that,” said Beausilien.

He is proving there are far more teenagers on the right path than the ones committing crimes.

“I’m going to Washington State University, Go Cougs!” said Beausilien.

These teenagers are putting together a toolkit for a successful life.

Organizers hope other communities will adopt similar job fairs to encourage teens to find jobs over the summer.