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Charm City Meets Ocean City: Summer Workforce Development Program Offers Unique Opportunity

By Logan Dubel

Baltimore and OC

Many of Ocean City’s visitors hail from the Baltimore region, and now, a few of the resort’s hard-working employees are making their mark on the summer destination through their unique Charm City spirit. A new program is not only shaking up the local workforce but making a positive impact on the lives of students who need it most. 

The Ocean City Workforce Development Program, launched in the summer of 2021, brings students down the ocean to not only join the resort’s seasonal labor force but to gain necessary life skills, including financial literacy and the ability to interact professionally. 

The students arrived on May 28 and will continue their experience for weeks to come until August 12. The seven young men live together in studio-style apartments right across the street from Pier 23 on Harbor Road. 

The program, first imagined by Steve Butz, co-owner of Sail Alyosha and the OC Bayhopper, now has the backing of a larger and revolutionary mentorship program in Baltimore, known as Next One Up. Founded in 2009, the program has served more than 130 young men through extensive academic, athletic, and social support. Simply put, this is not a small after-school program, but a life-changing initiative that invests in students year after year.

Ocean City program director Brandon Julot, a Next One Up alumni himself, is proud to have the chance to show these students a taste of life in the real world.

Summer Workforce Development Program Students
Pictured from left to right: Andre Ross Jr., Janad Lockhart, Camron Boyd, and Braeden Hammett.

Students can earn compensation of between $3,000 and $5,000 from their summer jobs. After returning home last summer, Camron, pictured above, even purchased a car using some of his earnings.  

The program not only teaches students how to serve as professional employees and interact with one another but how to truly be independent and live confidently. 

Students receive a small two-week stipend upon their arrival to the shore for initial grocery shopping and meals, but after the stipend runs out, the students are on their own, using the money they have earned to support themselves. Whether they use their money to take a trip to the supermarket and cook, dine out at a restaurant, or spend it on leisure, it is entirely up to them. However, the program instills the importance of smart decisions because one day, they will truly be on their own. 

Additionally, Julot, who lives in the apartment building with the students, provides weekly enrichment programming, including college preparation and the skills of time management and budgeting. The students have quickly developed a rapport with Brandon that makes him more like a big brother and mentor rather than simply a teacher.

“Our enrichment portion of the program is huge, from having the guys exercising and working out to learning life skills that they wouldn’t get inside the classroom,” Julot said.

It’s an experience that none of the men will ever forget.

“I was introduced to the program by my friend, and he asked if I would want to work down in Ocean City,” Andre Ross Jr. explained. “I was excited to meet new people and make some great connections. This program has already helped me grow and become a better person.”

The students all display a strong and admirable work ethic, with some even waking up and arriving to work in the kitchen before sunrise. The program teaches grit and independence in the young men that lasts a lifetime.

“It has been a great opportunity for me to live independently and take responsibility,” said Janad Lockhart. “Usually at home, you have your mother and father, but being down here on my own has helped me become very disciplined.”

“Adulthood isn’t that far away from me, and no one is always going to be there to hold your hand,” Camron Boyd added. “This has helped me get my feet wet in the real world.”

“We’re getting a head start for what it’s going to be like in college and the workforce,” Braeden Hammett reflected. “Your parents will always be a call away, but they aren’t with you every moment.”

The boys are making a difference all around Ocean City and are working at various businesses. From joining program pioneer Steve Butz on the Bayhopper as a mate and kiosk representative to making children happy at Trimper’s and Marty’s Playland and even working hard in the kitchen at Pier 23 and Blu Crab, these students have certainly found jobs all over the resort.

Still, throughout their busy days, they find some time for summer relaxation and fun.

In the fall, they hope to put the skills they’ve learned to the test. Andre and Janad will begin their senior year of high school back in Baltimore, and recent graduates Camron (Woodlawn High School) and Braeden (Boys’ Latin School of Maryland) will head to college, at Bowie State University and Susquehanna University, respectively. Without a doubt, the kind, well-spoken, and proud young men are roaring success stories.

Organizers have already begun to look ahead to next year, and they hope to grow the Ocean City Summer Workforce Development Program even larger to 15 boys, allowing Baltimore students to experience all that the Eastern Shore has to offer, while making a positive difference on the resort.

Logan Dubel
Logan Dubel
Logan Dubel is a contributor for OceanCity.com and the host of "This Week in Ocean City." He is a Baltimore County native, Franklin High School graduate, and an undergraduate journalism and media student at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the OceanCity.com team in June 2020. On the shore, he has also served as a writer at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. Logan has a strong passion for covering the news and its impact on Marylanders. Since arriving at OceanCity.com, he has covered the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, interviewed newsmakers including former First Lady Yumi Hogan, Mayor Rick Meehan, and members of the City Council, featured local businesses, and covered local events. As a collegiate journalist, Logan also works as a Life and Arts Reporter for The Daily Texan and an anchor/reporter for Texas Student Television. Most recently, he anchored live coverage of the 2022 Midterm Elections and reported from the CMT Music Awards Red Carpet. Have a story idea? Contact logan@oceancity.com.

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