Here’s a way to find the help you need from the teenagers in your neighborhood while inspiring their entrepreneurial spirit: create a basic teenage job directory for your area.  

This is a simple way to connect willing teens with neighbors who would like to hire them for temporary work. Begin by preparing a blank master list with several sections for name, address, age, phone number, email address, interests (e.g. pet-sitting, babysitting, yard work), skills, and any other categories you think would be appropriate for your area. 

Encourage those who are interested in babysitting to take a first-aid or CPR certification class, and provide them with information about these classes. This will not only inspire more confidence in the parents who are looking for sitters, but will also help to improve general neighborhood first-aid and safety awareness – one person at a time.

Go door to door, and ask teens if they’d like to take part in the job listing. Make sure you obtain their parents’ permission for them to be included on the list. Also give teens your name and contact info in case they need to update their status or interests on the list. 

If you have a neighborhood newsletter, request to make the job directory a monthly feature, and update it frequently. If you have a neighborhood Web site or email service, submit the list to be posted there (look into password protection so as not to broadcast the sensitive info of minors). It’s also a nice touch to hand out a hard copy of the information to your neighbors so they have quick access to the new directory. 

You could also consider adding a section for neighbors to post a memo with a specific job that they’re looking for help with, such as painting a shed, and give teens the opportunity to respond directly to the requests.

Instant Intentions: Follow up with teenagers and neighbors who are part of your list, checking on how their experiences have been. Seriously consider and implement all helpful suggestions to your system. Make sure to hire some of the teens on the list to help in your own household, and pay them generously.   

-     From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007.