For about two months every January, Bladen Finch takes care of every need for three or four dozen 13- and 14-year-olds as they roam the State Capitol building working as Senate pages. “I am responsible for all aspects of their experience — their housing, work schedules and social calendar,” he says.
Finch was a page himself back in 1994. After working for five years at the admissions office at Virginia Wesleyan University from which he graduated in 2003, he found himself drawn to training young people in public service and politics.
Pages live during the legislative session in one of two hotels with adult supervision. They earn $145 a week plus $125 for weekly expenses, which they use for food and other personal items. The kids, he says, “are phenomenal” and remarkably responsible for their ages. They leave school for the duration and have nightly study halls.
About 60 of them from throughout the state apply for the jobs. Finch helped boost that number to 200 by starting outreach programs and tapping former pages to drum up interest. Another part of their outreach is for pages to work for FeedMore, the hunger relief organization that serves more than 30 counties in Central Virginia.
Finch, who is from Lawrenceville, says he’s devoted to his job, his pages and his family. He’s also working on a graduate degree in administration at Virginia Tech.
He takes pride in his kids. One serves on the Poquoson City Council while studying as a sophomore at Christopher Newport University.