KPTM Fox 42 Article: Helping Local Youth Get Ahead
OMAHA (KPTM) - For high school dropouts looking for a job, most of the time all they end up finding is closed doors.
But two local charities are teaming up to give local teens a second chance.
Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity are helping 5 young men get back on their feet.
"People like me and my fellow participants don't have people to keep them on track and this program provides that, that pat on the back, that push," says Marcus Thompson.
That program is called Youthbuild Omaha.
It was started in 2005 to get high school dropouts ages 16 to 24 back into the community by accomplishing 2 goals.
"So ultimately we're assisting them with attaining their GED and they also serve their community by building a house for Habitat for Humanity," says Elizabeth Startzer, Program Manager for Youthbuild Omaha.
"My GED, I need to finalize my GED, I have 2 more tests for that, that's my big main goal, and then after that to have the construction training behind my name and to further on in college is my main goal after the program," says Markell Patterson.
The program operates Monday through Friday and takes about 9 months to complete.
Students spend their mornings in the classroom preparing for their GED tests.
Then they help Habitat for Humanity in the afternoon.
"Basically our intermediate problems as well as our learning struggles. So if I was struggling with math, maybe the class would work together and the teacher would step aside to help me with math," says Alex White.
"This is a great program to get into because the instructors did great, they are willing to work with you, help you. They exceed their limitations at some times to help you get where you gotta go," says Markell.
Those instructors also get a lot out of the program.
"I really enjoy it, it is really gratifying, I get to do what I love, doing construction and then help these guys out and give them a foot in the door and get them a good start," says Kyle Argall, Youthbuild Omaha Construction Training.
"The knowledge is there for the taking so to speak and I consistently say to them that knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have the better you will be as a human being, and the more successful you will be," says Audrey Elmore, GED Instructor for Youthbuild Omaha.
That message is getting through.
"Because if you look to make a big change in your life, this is a life changing program for you," says Jacob Jewett.
The Youthbuild Omaha program was made possible by a grant from the US Department of Labor and AmeriCorps.
Goodwill is currently accepting applications for the program.
If you are interested in the program, just call Goodwill at 402-231-1976. Or apply in person at 1111 South 41st Street.
(Story by KPTM Fox 42's Andrew McCawley)