By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON —
YouthBuild is looking for young people in the area who can be helped through the program for its latest class.
“In Mt. Vernon, we could use about 10 more students,” said Rick Marlow, YouthBuild project manager in Jefferson County. “We know there are more people out there that can be helped with the program.”
YouthBuild is a grant-supported program that serves those between the ages of 17 and 24 who are unemployed, undereducated and have a desire to work toward their GED while learning construction skills by building affordable housing. According to Riann Ross, the YouthBuild Marion County Counselor and Case Manager, some who have attained their high school diploma, but test low on reading skills are also eligible for the program. She said participants can earn a GED, a pre-apprenticeship certification for carpentry, receive OSHA training, CPR training and first aid training.
“Many don’t realize there is also have a program in place to pay them a stipend to be here based on minimum attendance,” Marlow said. He added those attending can earn $8.25 per hour during the construction phase of the program, for the two days per week for two weeks when participants are on the job working on homes.
The YouthBuild program started in Mt. Vernon in 2006, and was refunded in 2007 with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant and the Marion County component was added, Marlow said. YouthBuild has been funded three times with U.S. Department of Labor grants and the current grant will expire on June 30.
“The Department of Labor hasn’t released grant applications yet to reapply,” Marlow said. “We’re just waiting on that.”
During the years, program has rehabbed four homes and a fifth is under construction.
“We had three in Mt. Vernon and one in Centralia that have been completed,” Marlow explained. “The current one is in Centralia, and it’s probably the best one so far.”
Marlow said funds to purchase the houses for rehab is through a grant from the United Methodist Children’s Home Foundation.
Marlow said there is an effort underway at this time to get more women and African-American students in the program, which has served more than 64 students each program year.
“The current class has just started, but we are still accepting applications,” Marlow said. “There is a one-and-a-half week orientation, and we’re in the middle of that, but we’re willing to take more students and do additional orientation.”
The students who go through the program will get the basics of carpentry training, which is a “foot in the door” for construction and union jobs, Marlow said.
“We really encourage participants to continue to college to get additional training,” Marlow said. “It opens more doors and more job opportunities.”
Anyone who would like more information about YouthBuild may contact the project office on Veterans Memorial Drive at 242-6723.