Nonprofit seeks jobs for youth |

Nonprofit seeks jobs for youth

John Seelmeyer

Joe Dufur is a firm believer in the power of work to help young people stay on the right path.

“Busy people are successful people,” says Dufur, director of Safe Talk for Teens, a nonprofit launched in Reno 18 months ago.

Now Dufur is looking for more employers to join a cadre of about 15 businesses that are helping to provide work experience for teens, largely from the south side of Reno.

The nonprofit’s two staff members — Dufur and office manager Cindee Ashkar — work with about 180 teens from mostly middle- and upper-income families.

“Every teen-ager is at risk,” says Dufur about the nonprofit’s focus on affluent teens.

Most teens are referred to SafeTalk by school counselors or teachers who have spotted kids facing problems with absenteeism, risky personal behaviors or troubled relationships — either romantically or with their parents.

Dufur, who retired from juvenile probation after a 25-year career, puts a lot of focus on the creation of good values and goal-setting as he talks with teens.

“It’s all about the decision-making process,” he says.

And for many teens, part of the goal-setting process includes learning about how to get and keep a job.

“Kids have a difficult time navigating through the employment process,” he says, beginning with seemingly simple steps such as picking up an application. “We are trying to teach kids some skills.”

Among the skills teens learn in jobs, Dufur says, are responsibility, a work ethic, teamwork, and management of time and money.

The current group of businesses that have partnered with Safe Talk for Teens includes both large employers and small business, Dufur says.

(To learn more, contact the nonprofit at


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