Summer jobs: stepping stones to something bigger

(BPT) – As millions of high school students prepare to head back to the classroom in just a few weeks, many may reflect on their summer jobs serving tables, operating cash registers, tracking inventory and assisting customers.

To most, those summer jobs were solely for the purpose of having a little extra cash, or maybe to build a college resume. But students should consider the long-term knowledge gained in such a short span of time. These hourly positions often provide the building blocks for something bigger to come in the future: a career.

The restaurant industry hires hundreds of thousands of seasonal employees every summer, including high school students getting their first taste of the working world. One-half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives and one out of three adults got their first job experience in a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association.

But can summer jobs in restaurants lead to bigger and better things? Research shows that nine out of 10 salaried restaurant employees started in hourly positions, and 80 percent of restaurant owners began their industry careers as hourly workers. Nearly all restaurant employees say the industry is a good place to get a first job and learn basic working skills.

Even if you didn’t have a summer job in a restaurant, it’s still a hot spot for career opportunities. The restaurant industry is posting stronger job growth than the overall economy, with employment now totaling more than 13 million. Eighty-eight percent of restaurant employees say restaurants often provide the opportunity to start at the bottom and move up to management.

And it’s going to keep getting better. The National Restaurant Association projects that restaurant and foodservice outlets will add 1.3 million new positions.

It’s no wonder training for a career in this growing industry is on the rise. Nearly every state in the U.S. – 47 in total – now implements ProStart, a two-year program that brings the industry and the classroom together to give 95,000 high school students across 1,700 schools nationwide a platform to discover new interests and talents, while opening doors to fulfilling culinary and restaurant management careers. ProStart is just one of the programs offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), which is committed to ensuring it supports the development of a highly-trained and professional talent pool through scholarships and educational programs. The Foundation has granted $15 million in scholarships to students and educators, giving them a jumpstart on successful careers.

In addition to the ample employment opportunities the restaurant industry provides, its employee base is incredibly diverse, consisting of people from various backgrounds, speaking many languages and with different skill sets. Eighty-one percent of restaurant employees say the industry is a place where people of all backgrounds and experience can open their own business.

Millennials make up a large percentage of today’s workforce and this group tends to gravitate toward organizations that do good for others. In fact, Jim Lewis, CEO of the National Society of High School Students, recently told Forbes that Millennials are responding to companies that focus on helping others and want the sense that they are giving back to the community.

And restaurants are certainly part of that trend. In fact, more than nine in 10 restaurants are involved in community service.  The NRAEF, in partnership with American Express, has presented the annual Restaurant Neighbor Award to celebrate this outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators. It’s companies like these that will continue to attract Millennials as they seek out career opportunities with socially responsible companies.

As summer comes to a close and students return to school, they can feel confident in saying they not only spent their summer making some extra spending money in a restaurant, but also had the opportunity to build a foundation for a bright, fulfilling career.

New siding can increase the value of your home

Tired of that old run down looking house you’ve been living in? Why not upgrade your home to a new look and increase the value of your home in the process. You can have the home of your dreams and it’s not as hard as you think. Your old home may be run down and the paint may be thirty years old and peeling off, but you can have the best looking house in your neighborhood.

How? Just give it a new face lift with colorful and easy to maintain vinyl siding. Vinyl siding comes in a variety of colors and you can choose the one that’s right for you. Your 100 year old house can look new again and the cost won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Vinyl siding can be applied over brick structures and it can also be applied over wood and concrete structures. Vinyl siding looks great and its insulation qualities wrap the entire home in warmth and comfort. The entire project will be completed in a short amount of time if done by a reputable contractor of your choosing.

You can have your old home looking brand new and bright and shiny with new siding. Your entire home will match with the same bold colors you select and your window and door trim will match also. The value of your old home will sky rocket and if you ever decide to sell your home, you’ll receive higher offers for it.

You may be wondering why you’ll want to put up new vinyl siding as compared to aluminum siding. There are a lot of good reasons to choose vinyl, but the final decision is yours. There are a lot of differences between aluminum siding and vinyl. Vinyl siding is manufactured from a continuous formed plastic material and usually has a thickness between .040 to.046 inches. Aluminum siding is a continuous formed material that is usually around .019 inches thick.

Vinyl siding is manufactured with a solid color, while aluminum siding is manufactured with a baked on enamel paint finish. Since vinyl siding has a manufactured solid color, the color will remain solid even when scratched.

Not so however with aluminum siding. The paint is baked on so if aluminum siding is scratched; the paint peels off and leaves a shiny bare metal finish exposed. The choice is yours; however, your home will look newer and have a higher value when it is finished. You’ll love the added warmth and comfort that your new siding will bring you.

Your neighbors won’t believe the big difference they’ll see in your home and you’ll have a hard time believing that is the same house yourself. Energy efficient, stylish and modern, your new siding will give your home that personal touch and feel it had when you first purchased it. You have everything to gain with new siding and the new look it gives your home and property is amazing.

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6388.shtml

U.S. foster care population continues to decline. Why children benefit from more permanent homes


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Malik, 14, wears a smile from ear-to-ear when recounting how he and his brother Matthew, 12, went from two of the world’s millions of waiting children to become the adoptive sons of Kyle and Petra Ray one August morning three years ago. “During our court date to finalize our adoption, I remember asking my dad, ‘Is mom crying because she’s happy?’” Malik says.  

 
There are more than 400,000 children in foster care across the United States, according to the most recent report released by AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System). This is a sobering number. The encouraging news is that this number continues to decline – down more than 8 percent from 2008, and nearly 30 percent from 1999, when there were nearly 570,000 foster children.

 
One primary reason for that decrease is the implementation of proactive social service programs such as Safe Families for Children (SFFC), a ministry committed to keeping kids out of the foster care system, preventing child abuse, supporting pregnant and parenting teens and strengthening families. Safe Families for Children enlists host families to provide temporary care for children whose parents are experiencing personal difficulties so that they can work through their troubles without having to place their children in foster care.

 
“Over the past several years, the SFFC ministry has seen substantial growth across the country,” says Dr. David Anderson, founder and executive director of SFFC. “The ministry has been embraced throughout the communities in which it serves, with local residents and organizations – including many churches – stepping up to help families in crisis. It’s truly remarkable to see the difference SFFC can have on keeping families together and children out of foster care." 

 
Family preservation professionals, such as Bill Blacquiere, president of Bethany Christian Services, know that while the decade-long decrease in the number of children in foster care is a positive sign, there’s still plenty of work left to be done.

 
"Last year, more than 254,000 children were placed in foster care, so our work is far from over,” Blacquiere says. “Family preservation and social service agencies like Bethany must continue to lead in raising public awareness and do a better job of recruiting families, community organizations and local businesses committed to supporting the country’s most vulnerable children.”
More than 40 percent of foster children end up abusing drugs and alcohol, 40 percent turn to crime, and up to 10 percent give up hope and commit suicide, according to Bethany.

 
For more information on foster children, visit www.Bethany.org.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Malik and Matthew were among 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. They were adopted by Kyle and Petra Ray in 2009.

Courtesy of BPT

‘Summer-ize’ your home to look and smell wonderful in warmer weather!

(BPT) – The three R’s aren’t just reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic. In the summer, they refer to “reorganizing,” “restyling”, and “reviving” your home. It’s the perfect time to bring a summery, comfortable feeling to your home’s interior. Luckily, you don’t need to redo every room or throw out all your furniture to get a wonderful seasonal change. Spend a weekend giving your living spaces a lighter, fresher feel. At the end, you might even think you’re on a summer vacation.

Home and lifestyle expert Evette Rios has some simple suggestions that can make powerful impressions throughout your house.

Reorganize

Boost the excitement and va-va-voom in your rooms by moving just a few things around. You’ll be amazed at the new looks you can create. Something as simple as changing the angle of your couch and voila – new room! Try this scuff-proof method for moving heavy pieces: Fold two clean towels (dirty ones can scratch floors), place one under each end of the furniture piece, and then slide it across the floor. This might also be the time to incorporate a few white wicker pieces, which will add a summery touch.

Take some time to sort through your linen closet and remove unwanted items. Put old or unused linens into a “giveaway” bag. Store bed linen sets inside one of the pillowcases, and you’ll never have to hunt through piles looking for a match. All you’ll have to do is grab and go. Want a closet full of freshness? Place a few Gain dryer sheets in with your folded sheets to keep them smelling great.

Restyle

Fresh new accessories can help to brighten up each room in your home. Turn plain lampshades into fabulous ones by adding bright or printed linings that come to life when you flip the switch. You might even want to swap out the art on your walls, adding more colorful pieces that are floral or botanical. If you’re feeling really ambitious, consider painting a few walls to add a clean, fresh look to your rooms. Try bold colors you’ve never had before to really change up the look.

Want to get the kids involved? Turn some drab kitchen aprons into fun “cleaning armor.” Give each child his or her own apron to decorate with markers or stickers to wear, and send the kids on their mission to dust, clean windows, organize, etc. They’ll love wearing something they decorated themselves. Don’t forget to ask their opinions on the changes you’re making – you might be surprised at their great suggestions.

Revive

If you’re packing away heavy clothes or quilts for the season, ensure they maintain a fresh scent by using new Gain Original Fireworks In-Wash Scent Booster in the wash before you store them. It’s safe for use on all colors and fabrics and the freshness lasts up to 12 weeks in storage (just in time to take them out for the fall).

Make your laundry room a place you’re not afraid to enter. De-clutter the room by installing a tension rod to hang spray bottles, cleaning supplies and more. You can also decorate the room with your kids’ artwork to make it a fun space.

Your summer home makeover doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. Ambitious projects might take a little longer, but you’ll be pleased at how simple it is to transform some of your rooms from drab to wonderfully fresh. Just don’t wait too long – summer doesn’t last forever! For more inspiration, visit ILoveGain.com or facebook.com/gain.

Beyond the beach: Great ideas for outdoor activities this summer


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Basking on the beach or playing in the surf are high points of summer vacation for many people. In fact, going to the beach is among the top five activities for American leisure travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

While beach time will always have its place in the hearts of anyone who loves being outside in summer, there are plenty more ways to enjoy the great outdoors beyond the surf and sand. Consider these tips from the outdoor fun experts at the Myrtle Beach Area

Convention & Visitors Bureau:

* Warm up to wildlife – Look for an outdoor destination that will afford the opportunity to see native wildlife in its natural habitat. From dolphin watching to critter spotting, getting an eyeful of the local wildlife can be a fun, exciting way to enjoy the outdoors. Choose a spot that offers variety. For example, Huntington Beach State Park in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina is home to more than 300 species of birds, making it a favorite birding spot for both beginners and dedicated birders. Further south, the Center for Birds of Prey also offers weekly flight demonstrations of wild birds.

 
* Play on and in the water – When you want to really enjoy all the water has to offer, look for a beach destination that offers an array of water sports, from windsurfing and parasailing to kayaking or fly fishing.

 
* Romp under the water – Splashing in the surf is great fun, but don’t overlook the cool things that wait beneath the surface. Snorkeling for brightly colored fish and coral is great for the whole family or, if you’re more adventurous, shipwrecks serve as homes to underwater sea creatures and make interesting viewing for explorers. Look for outfitters like Coastal Scuba in Murrells Inlet, S.C., that offer scuba adventures for divers of varying experience levels. 

 

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* Get the lay of the land – When you want to wander away from the water, look for a destination that offers interesting landscape beyond the beach. The best destinations will offer a variety of interesting hiking and biking trails, appropriate for people of varying skill levels.

 
* Go guided and organized – You can work up a sweat and enjoy the great outdoors with more sophisticated fun, too. Golf is the ultimate refined sport and a healthy way to savor time outside. It can even be an opportunity for family time. In Myrtle Beach, 46 courses offer free play for children during the summer months, including Arrowhead Country Club, which is renowned for its scenic Intracoastal Waterway views and all-day tee times. Another unique Myrtle Beach opportunity is “paddle board yoga.” Surf the Earth, a gear shop in Myrtle Beach, leads a paddle to a secluded beach where participants enjoy core-focused yoga.

 
When it comes to outdoor fun in the summer sun, no one wants to miss the beach. But when you’re ready to get off the beach towel, keep in mind the plethora of other activities and opportunities the great outdoors offer.

Courtesy of BPT

College graduates: Six financial survival tips for the working world


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If you are a recent college graduate, there is much to be optimistic about as you leave campus and head out into the real world. No one ever says life on your own will be easy, but post-graduate financial bliss can be a reality. These six tips from Thrivent Financial offer a starting point for recent graduates who are ready to put their education to work for a secure financial future.

Get real about your paycheck

 

Compared to the minimum wage jobs you survived on through college, the annual earnings at your first post-graduate job may give you dollar-sign eyes. Don’t be fooled though; after taxes, benefits, living expenses and student loan payments, your remaining monthly spending money could amount to less than half of your gross income. Being realistic about your paycheck doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun, though. That new car may have to wait a while, but with smart budgeting you can still enjoy the finer things in life with a clear conscience.   

 
Your credit score matters

 
Thought you were done worrying about test scores? Think again. Whether you want to get an apartment, mortgage, car or a new job, your credit score says a lot about you and can make or break these important investments. Free credit reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com, and for a small fee you can also obtain your credit score. Examine your report regularly for accuracy, and pay off any existing credit card debt as soon as possible. Credit card interest is wasted money, and outstanding debt can hurt your credit score. 

 
Take care of yourself first

 
After expenses and taxes, your paycheck may look too slim for comfort, but protecting your assets, health and income is worth the additional cost. If you have an apartment, renter’s insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your possessions. Health insurance is also a must, whether you get it through your employer or stay on your parents’ plan. Your paycheck is worth protecting, too. Disability income insurance is not just for those with physically demanding jobs, as most beneficiaries are on disability from illness, not injury. Preparation for the unexpected comes at a small price considering the costs associated with the alternative.

 
Save for the fun stuff

 
Again, being responsible with your finances doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. You have worked hard to start your career, and deserve to reward yourself. The best way to spend smartly is simply to spend less than you have. Diligent saving allows for the occasional splurge without having to feel guilty or anxious about your decision to spend. Consider directly depositing a certain amount from your paycheck into a savings account for a “fun fund." 
Save for the grown-up stuff, too.

 
Your parents’ nagging may start to quiet now that you’ve graduated, but their retirement planning advice is worth listening to. Start investing now, you won’t regret it. As you barely scratch the surface of your career, retirement seems a long way off, but successful investors understand that the longer your assets remain invested, the greater their potential for growth. The cash you forfeit now will pale in comparison to the amount you’ll end up getting back at the end of your career if you start as early as possible. 

 
Don’t pass up free money

 
Many employers offer pretax savings through their retirement accounts. Because your retirement contributions come out before taxes, your taxable income is decreased, saving you money. For example, a $100 contribution from your earnings to a pretax retirement account would reduce your paycheck by only $75 if you’re in the 25 percent tax bracket. If your employer matches a percentage of your retirement contributions, it is wise to contribute the maximum amount of their match so as not to pass up on "free money.”

 
Money is just one of many aspects of adulthood that college graduates must meet head-on to start living independently. Personal finance may seem daunting, but don’t be discouraged. The above-mentioned tips boil down to common sense: spend less than you earn, stay protected through proper insurance, maintain good credit and save for the short and long-term, and you will be off to a great financial start in the next chapter of your life.

Courtesy of BPT

Five tips for creating a stadium-style lawn in your own backyard

Five%20tips%20for%20creating%20a%20stadium-style%20lawn%20in%20your%20own%20backyardWith summer on the horizon, families will be heading to backyards across the country for picnics, sports games and to simply soak up the sun. A lush green lawn is the perfect setting for these activities and will be the envy of the neighborhood. How does one achieve that well-manicured, stadium-style lawn?

Many homeowners think a professional-looking lawn requires a stringent water and fertilizer regimen. While both water and fertilizer play their part, neither is the stand-alone key to a perfect lawn. The following five tips offer homeowners simple solutions to achieving a great yard.

* Know your region. Grass seed is not one size fits all. Select the right grass seed or sod based on where you live. It’s also important to consider how you plan to use your lawn. Do you have children and pets that will be playing on it regularly, or will the purpose be primarily curb appeal? To determine the right grass, talk to your local garden center or contact the turf grass specialist at your state agriculture school.

* Only feed as needed. According to Grass Seed, a coalition of grass seed farmers, many homeowners over water their lawns, which does more harm than good. A simple trick to determine whether your lawn needs watering is to stick a screwdriver into the grass. If it enters the dirt easily, your lawn has plenty of water already. If you have trouble getting the screwdriver into the ground, it is time to give the grass a drink. It is also recommended to fertilize your lawn at least once a year. However, putting your lawn on a quarterly schedule will help achieve optimal health.

* Break out the ruler. The maintenance crews for professional sports fields are meticulous about the height of their grass because it ensures a uniform look. Grass Seed recommends maintaining a lawn height of about 2 inches. It’s important not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time to minimize damage, so aim to mow when your lawn is about 3 inches in height.

* Arm yourself with the right tools. The proper equipment can take a lawn from looking well-manicured to professional. When selecting a mower, don’t jump straight to those that pick up the grass clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose in the lawn will add to the overall health of your yard, and when you mow often, the shavings are small and less noticeable. Adding an edger to your arsenal is another great trick for cleaning up the lines and defining your yard.

* Replenish as necessary. Grass is a natural carpet that cleans and repairs itself. It’s equipped to withstand a number of elements yet is impacted over time. If you’ve noticed that your lawn is sparse in areas, or not as full and lush as you’d like, it may be time to add more seed. The best time to plant new seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. But reseeding may be done throughout the year. The important thing is to avoid drastic temperature changes and water regularly, yet moderately, to give the seed time to absorb moisture and build roots.

Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn doesn’t have to come with a backache. Basic planning and these five quick tips will have you well on your way to a backyard prime for the summer season.

Courtesy of BPT