Meet the Maker | Inayah Clay
For 17-year-old Inayah Clay, Project HOME has become a second home of sorts.
“I love that the mission is helping to end homelessness. People here love to be here. I love to be here,” she said. Clay came to Project HOME by way of our College Access Program (CAP) at Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, a venture that serves Philadelphia communities with low college attendance rates. Located in North Philadelphia, CAP seeks to educate at-risk youths and prevent students from falling through the cracks. Participating students are offered a variety of PSAT and SAT prep courses as well as access to internships and a popular culinary arts program, all of which Clay has enrolled and excelled in.
During the summer of 2014, Clay completed her first of two internships with the Social Enterprise team at Project HOME. Her supervisors were so impressed with her dedication that they offered her more responsibilities the next summer, followed by part-time work during this, her senior year of high school. Inayah’s responsibilities include assisting product design for greeting cards released through the HOME Made Gift line, reconciling weekly inventory counts to sales deposit records, reviewing general ledger entries, and conducting pop-up sales events across the city.
Social Enterprise Manager Scarlett McCahill remembers Inayah’s proposal to continue working in the department after her second internship came to an end: “Inayah came to me with an uncharacteristically serious face on the last day of her internship. She said ‘Scarlett, I’d like to talk to you about something important.’ She really caught my attention then since she’s usually so bubbly and easygoing. She thanked me for her internship experience and told me even if I didn’t have room for her on payroll, she’d like to stay on in the department as a volunteer one day per week once the school year started. I had to chuckle, because clearly she had been paying close attention to office dynamics and bigger picture workings of our programs, anticipating how to pitch me on keeping her around. Needless to say, I collaborated with program staff at CAP and we devised a way to give Inayah staff responsibilities shared across both departments.“
In her current holiday seasonal role as part of the Social Enterprise crew, Clay has honed her customer service and people skills. She’s learned time management, how to operate a cash register, and how to behave in a professional setting.
Brendan Sculley, an employment entrepreneur specialist with CAP, described Clay as “resilient and determined,” adding that Clay is “very committed to her college potential" and that she "takes advantage of all of the services the center has to offer.”
After Clay graduates from George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science in June, she plans to attend a four-year university, declaring a pre-med track with the hope of one day becoming a veterinarian. Clay has applied to nine universities. If she stays in the area, she plans to continue her work with Project HOME. If she does leave Philadelphia, Clay says it’s the people of Project HOME that she’ll miss the most.