Home ♃ Recent Stories ☄ Bessemer Housing Authority Provides Pathways to Careers in Nursing and Construction

Bessemer Housing Authority Provides Pathways to Careers in Nursing and Construction

5705
0
Graduates from the YouthBuild program, a community-based pre-apprenticeship program that provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24, celebrate the end of their program. (Provided)

By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

In order to prepare for a better future, Derrick Moore knew changes had to be made. And he began with himself.

Moore was one of nine students who graduated Wednesday from Bessemer’s Housing Authority’s YouthBuild program. He received both his (National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certifications and served as Valedictorian with Erica Calhoun in CNA.

“Sometimes in order to change you have to start with the person in the mirror,” he said. “I realized that in order to change, I must want to change and actually work for it. When you continue to push forward and progress, you can become a better version of yourself.”

YouthBuild program is a community-based pre-apprenticeship program that provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24 in Bessemer public housing and the surrounding area who have previously dropped out of high school.

The program offers two career pathways: Construction Certification and CNA.  Participants also can learn vocational skills in construction, as well as in information technology and hospitality.

Moore and Calhoun were among nine graduates. The others were Marquarius Amerson, Dustani Davis, Sha’Mon Garret, LaDiamond Handy, Aishanae McKissick, Artiunna Sanders, and TreFaye Wells.

Tomeka Robinson, Director of Resident Engagement Services for the BHA and Director of YouthBuild said, “It’s hard not to cry when I reflect upon [their] journey. I put out the call about this great program and they heeded the call and now they are ready to face this new journey.”

She added, “we [were] awarded this [Department of Labor] grant to provide workforce development training services for our students and they have completed high school diplomas, credentials in NCR, which is our national construction institution that credentials them in construction trades. We have students that have completed their certified nursing assistants.”

During the program year, participants provide community service through construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income or homeless families in their own neighborhoods. They split time between the vocational training work site and the classroom where they earn their high school diploma or equivalency degree and prepare for postsecondary training opportunities including college, apprenticeships, and employment.

BHA’s YouthBuild program includes support systems such as mentoring, case management, follow-up education, employment placement, referrals to counseling services, and participation in community service and civic engagement.

“We wanted to give students an opportunity to just be able to find another alternative if they dropped out of high school and they need a non-traditional path. That’s what we provide,” said Robinson.

Awarded in 2022 with the help of U.S. Representative Terri Sewell, the grant will expire 2025.

“We did submit for a renewal grant so that we can continue to do this even more. We have a total of nine students graduating today. When you think about that, you have to think about the time [and] the effort that it takes to go in to stay committed, to stay preserving throughout all of this and they did that,” said Robinson.