HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Holyoke business owner who grew up on the streets of New York City is recognizing the need to help his teenage employees with more than just a paycheck.

Paper City Clothing Company owner Carlos Pena hosted “a sneaker mixer” Saturday, celebrating the work of his “youth works” program for employees ages 14 to 18.

The teens had volunteered to redesign the store window and the storefront space. Carlos told 22News, his young employees deserve special recognition, not just a paycheck.

“What we are trying to do is mentor them,” said Carlos. “We’re trying to be responsible adults and trying to teach them how to be good humans not just good workers.”

His young employees are thrilled to have played an active role in the operation of the clothing store, and to be rewarded for their efforts with a special occasion created in their honor.