A solution to clean their image

Posted: 5:52 PM, Dec 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-30 17:55:10-05
squeegee boys

We talk about, we're about the kids but, what do the kids need? Remember, if they have to be the ones helping to get their needs met to figure out what they're eating that night, then they're going to be out here.

- Dante Swinton, candidate for mayor.

The hustle to clean windshields has been an opportunity to make cash for years.

A 1985 Washington Post article tells a story about a group of youth, from ages 9 to 13 who were starting a first time entrepreneurial program.

It was spearheaded by the city government's Neighborhood Progress Administration.

They were supplied with all the necessities including a squeegee kid badge with a photo and ID number.

Bob Owens, an employee for the Neighborhood Progress Administration seemed to have the young men in shape. They were described as neatly dressed and "no horse playing" at work.

Even then, the young entrepreneurs sparked intimidation.

Former Mayor Catherine Pugh says the kids have been around since the 1980's.

Recently, there's been efforts to support the young men and their service.

The Pugh administration planned to raise about $1.7 million help 100 squeegee kids learn how to run a successful business, manage money and offer GED classes through the city's "Earn While You Learn" program. 

A plan that was developed considering her first attempt to provide opportunities with the Squeegee Corps, a solution to keep youth out of dangerous situations and to help them develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Following Pugh's departure from City Hall, current Mayor Jack Young had an idea for a Squeegee Alternative Plan. Its purpose was to get the children off the street and offer mentorship.

All failed policies

A pattern similar to past legislation that became the foundation to move the youth to the sides of streets with a cleaning tool.

In the past months, the Squeegee Boys have seen a ray of hope from non-government leaders.

This past summer, a local owner of a hauling company went to social media for a challenge. Taurus Barksdale called it #hireasqueegeeboychallenge

The challenge was call for other business owner to give the young men a shot at proving themselves as quality workers.

Barksdale got what he was looking for. A 16-year-old who once washed windows and sold waters on the streets, was given a chance by Barksdale to show that he can work hard.

The teen was grateful for the opportunity. He believed it was life changing, to see who he really was as a person.

Last month, news outlets received information about another group of windshield washers. This time, they created their own business.

Korner Boyz Enterprises, much like Deer Park, Poland Springs and Aquafina are selling bottled waters.

korner boys.jpg

With every bottle's label saying "Freedom to hustle"

It's a chance for five current squeegee kids to leave the game once and for all.

The opportunity came into play after a MICA employee built a relationship and a trust with the group after meeting them on Mount Royal Terrace and West North Avenue. The employee worked with the team of young entrepreneurs to establish rules and regulations.

“When you think of 'Squeegee Boy' you think of an ignorant kid. Now that they see that a 'Squeegee Boy' is doing something positive then that can only help me get a better look at the youth.

When I’m gone, I could leave a legacy,” said one of the Korner Boyz Enterprises members

For more stories related to Squeegee Kids, click below:

Baltimore man works to get squeegee kids off the streets

'Squeegee Boys' start water bottle business with help of mentors