Five high school students and their two mentors are pressure washing and painting properties around HRM this summer.
James Willies and Dan Allen, both in their early 20s, are teaching the teens from Halifax West and Citadel High schools the value of hard work – both inside and outside of school – with a new business called Students For Spring Cleaning.
“We’re trying to build a business to help out the kids,” said Willies, a Saint Mary’s University business student. “We’re trying to teach them some responsibility.”
Allen explained the teens have a lot of potential, but need positive role models.
“These kids are not bad kids,” said Allen, a recent Saint Mary’s finance graduate. “Their friends are doing drugs and breaking in and causing trouble. We’re just trying to set an example for them so they can set an example for their other friends.”
Since they started the business in April, the two entrepreneurs have played the roles of big brothers. They teach the teens how to study, surf and “get girls,” Willies said, laughing.
“We have one kid, his name is Tommy,” Willies said with a serious tone. “Tommy was under the weather for Physics. And he went from a 32 to like a 96. It was awesome. We told him how to study. Gave him some pointers. Threatened to kick him out of the company if he didn’t pull up his socks. Then he came back with this test and his parents were stoked.”
Willies, who started his own skim boarding company at 14, said he wants the kids to learn to make the right decisions.
“Everybody has the opportunity to do very well for themselves,” Willies said.
All profits from the company go back to the kids. Allen said it keeps them motivated to grow the business.
“Say we have $500,” Allen said. “We don’t say, ‘Hey, we want to take you guys surfing.’ We have a meeting and say, ‘What do you guys wanna do?’”
And what do they usually say?
“They say, ‘Let’s go surfin’,” Willies said, laughing.