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Smoothie Stand Gives At Risk Young People First Taste Of Responsibility

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It was hot at the Inner Harbor, perfect for the grand opening of a smoothie business.

But there’s more to this than just a cool drink.

Mary Bubala reports–it’s about creating a better future for at risk young people in the city.

The Flying Fruit Fantasy kiosk is right next to the Science Center at the Inner Harbor. A crowd gathers to mark the grand opening.

It’s owned and operated by the Choice Program, which employs at risk young people. For most, it’s their first job, their first real taste of responsibility.

“It’s a whole new experience for me. I’ve never had like a real, real job. So this is wonderful for me,” said Raghiba Abbur Rahin, employee.

Bubala: “What are you learning, what ‘s the biggest thing you’re learning?”

Rahin: “To be on time. To learn how to actually talk to customers, that’s the most important thing.”

And to get a real paycheck, and that’s pretty sweet.

“Generally, when we see kids come in, they may be a little rough around the edges with employment. So our jobs team does a really, really good job at preparing them for the work world,” said Latasha Pendergraft, Asst. Dir. Choice Program.

The mayor is a fan.

“They are fantastic. Just what you need on a hot day. And when you think about what we want for our young people, we want them to have good opportunities,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The smoothie kiosk is giving 40 Baltimore City young people a start, and making tourists and others very happy on a hot day.

“They are awesome. They are delicious,” a customer said.

The Choice Program is a nonprofit that partners with the Shriver Center at UMBC.

There’s another Flying Fruit Fantasy franchise at Camden Yards that employs even more young people.

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