January 15, 2019
By Brad Johnson
ELKINS — Elkins Rotary Club members learned Monday about a local program that helps young people get an education and find a career.
Michelle Phares, the program manager of YouthBuild of North Central West Virginia, introduced to Rotarians two of the program’s latest success stories during the Elkins club’s Monday meeting at the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA.
“We offer education, job training and leadership development to young people, many of whom dropped out of high school,” Phares said. “This YouthBuild is a ‘construction plus’ program, so we do training in construction, we also do training in the entry level medical field.”
The program teams up with Garrett College and Pierpont Community and Technical College to offer educational opportunities.
“They attend a two-day training with West Virginia Choice, and they have the opportunity to volunteer and job shadow at Davis Health System,” Phares said. “They’re a really great partner for us. Davis Health System has put a lot of our young people to work.”
She noted many local businesses are partnering with the program.
“They go out in the community and our community partners have offered to train them. We have a lot of great partners in this area,” she said.
“We have job shadow with Davis Health, Elkins Builders, Dave Davis Heating and Cooling, Triangle Heating and Cooling, Speedway, Lavender Fields, Elkins Motor Sports, the YMCA, Old Skool Tattoos, Isaac Jackson Hotel, Beanders, 1863, Pack and Ship, Crazy Harry’s and Bates… Those people actually take our young YouthBuilders and teach them a trade that could lead to employment… and gives them really good job skills.”
Two young men who are set to graduate from the program soon addressed the Rotarians Monday.
Erich Trickett and Zach Ankney were both elected to the program’s Policy Committee, to help write and enforce policy.
“Before I came here, I was trying to obtain a stable job along with taking care of my sister since my mother’s passing,” Trickett said. “I was lacking my education” which cut down on his job opportunities, he said.
“Since I’ve come to YouthBuild, during the past five months I’ve obtained my GED, my OSHA (certification), business computer classes through Garrett College, and I’ve also obtained a First Aid and a food handlers card. Overall it helped me, one, obtain a stable job, and gave me a better mindset and a higher confidence level,” he added.
Being part of the YouthBuild program also means helping to improve the community, Trickett said.
“We’ve helped out quite a bit around town with the Elkins library, Catholic Charities, the Humane Society, the (West Virginia) Autism Supportive Center, even helping build new ramps for the skate park,” he noted.
“My plan after YouthBuild” includes going to work at Elkins Builders, “and I’m also focusing on going to college and aiming for the military tract through criminal justice and criminology,” Trickett said.
“I just want to help repay YouthBuild for giving me the opportunity to achieve.”
Ankney said good advice from a friend led him to the program.
“One of my best friends went through the YouthBuild program also, and he encouraged me to get an interview there and to go in and be as confident as possible, and as a result, I’m here now and I’m getting my GED,” he said.
“I’ve helped my community with service to Catholic Charities, for example, and when we built the ramps at the skate park,” he said. “The things I’ve earned (while participating in the YouthBuild program) are my CPR certification, my OSHA certification, my voters registration card, and my food handlers card.”
The program offers young men and women the opportunity to earn money while gaining hands-on experience through building quality houses. The work YouthBuild participants complete also is reinforced with classroom instruction, job shadowing and personal guidance. Out-of-school youth ages 16 to 24 are eligible to apply. The program typically lasts between six to nine months.
For more information about the program, call 304-637-9008.