A program for at-risk young people in the Greater Johnstown area hammers home the need to succeed.
YouthBuild, a nationwide initiative, will help applicants receive their General Educational Development diplomas while they learn much-needed job skills and receive a pay check. The young people will help in the renovation of an existing house or will lend a hand during the construction of a new dwelling for low-income residents of Johnstown.
It sounds like an excellent opportunity for deserving young people to obtain the skill sets they so desperately need to become productive members of society.
The program has been in operation locally since 2007 through Goodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley Inc. and under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Many people recognize Goodwill for its many resale stores, but they may be surprised to know that Goodwill also plays an active, and critical, role by providing job training and employment support to individuals.
YouthBuild has been tailored for applicants between the ages of 17 and 24 who do not have a high school diploma. They also must have a Johnstown mailing address. Other criteria they must meet are low-income guidelines and they must have a criminal record or a disability.
Goodwill will hold an information session for prospective applicants and their parents to explain how the program works and to spotlight several success stories. The workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at Goodwill’s headquarters, 540 Central Ave., in the Moxham section of Johnstown.
Cheyenne Mack is one of those success stories. Mack, 24, heard about YouthBuild after he moved to Johnstown from Brooklyn, N.Y., to get away from bad influences in his life, he said.
“Through YouthBuild, I saw an opportunity to change my life around if I followed through with what the program was offering,” he said.
The program helped the young man apply for and land a part-time job at Korns Galvanizing in Johnstown. In August, he received good news from his employer – he would be moved to full-time status and he would take on more responsibility in his new role as utility-worker supervisor. That’s a feel-good success story from someone who admitted that his criminal background and lack of education and job skills hampered his job search at every turn.
“I encourage people to call them,” he said. “They are there to help people do that.”
We hope that more at-risk young people heed Mack’s advice and realize that help is available to them if they seek it. Some people just need a little nudge to get them on their way.
A workshop to explain YouthBuild will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at Goodwill, 540 Central Ave., in the Moxham
section of Johnstown.