When four teen boys, ages 13 and 14, approached the head of the LaGrange Housing Authority in Georgia asking for summer jobs, they weren't just hoping for pocket money. "I said why do you want a job? They said so we want get in trouble and we do not want to be in a gang! I said have people approached you about being in a gang they said yes'mam!" wrote Zsa Zsa Heard last week in a Facebook post that has since made headlines. "I hired them on the spot!" Heard tells KHOU the teens all live on housing authority property and have done odd jobs for her before, but until now, she didn't understand why. She says she'll continue to give them work during school breaks whenever they want it.
"They will do whatever you ask them to do. Whatever you need, they will do it," she says. She adds that since she shared her Facebook post in an attempt to "empower" the boys, she's received much positive feedback. Some of the boys' teachers even contacted her to tell her "what good kids they [are]," she says. "They said if you give them the support they need, they are going to be successful." Heard agrees: "If they feel that they’re valuable, and if we show them how important they are, then we don’t risk losing them," she says. The boys will also be joining a year-round teen leadership and mentorship program. They tell 11Alive they don't want to end up in jail: "Stay out of trouble, don't get in gangs like other people," says one. "Try to do your own stuff."