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Stories From Main Street: An Uptown Boutique Helps At-Risk Teens Succeed

Gwen White, Marjorie Stern and Lanijah Rodriguez (L-R) at A Time For Children boutique on the Upper West Side (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

Gwen White, Marjorie Stern and Lanijah Rodriguez (L-R) at A Time For Children boutique on the Upper West Side (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A small store on the Upper West Side helps make a big difference for at-risk youth.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, A Time For Children on Amsterdam Avenue at 84th Street is full of games, toys, puzzles, books and clothes.

But the owner of the boutique doesn’t make a penny and she employs troubled teens to arm them with skills for the future.

“It goes directly to the Children’s Aid Society. We are 100 percent nonprofit funded by a family foundation,” owner Marjorie Stern told Adams. “You’re a felon, try to get a job. It’s hard enough in today’s world.”

But, Stern added, there’s no free pass for the young employees.

“If you don’t come to work or you’re late, you’re out,” she said.

LINK: Check Out The Boutique

Store manager Gwen White takes troubled teens under her wing.

“Basically, I tell them welcome to the real world and to get to know them,” she told Adams. “What they learn here, they can parallel it to whatever they choose to study in life.”

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Lanijah Rodriguez, 19, said she’s applied for many jobs in the past with no success.

“I was so nervous that I didn’t pass the interview,” she told Adams.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

She told Adams her first job at A Time For Children has taught her about retail and helped her come out of her shell and hone her interpersonal skills.

“You gotta learn this, you gotta learn that, you gotta be focused. When somebody comes in, you greet them,” Rodriguez told Adams. “You get confident out of it. You did that sale, I wanna do more. That’s what’s gonna make me happy, making a customer happy.”

She said the skills she’s learned will help her in her next job search.

“I will leave with the job,” she told Adams.

Stern said she gets repaid by watching her employees succeed.

“I have two young people who left here and went to Barneys, which is major. They went from here to the top and that was because they worked really, really hard,” said Stern. “We gave them the background and the training to get to a point where they could walk into Barneys, have several interviews, not just one, and get the job.”

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