September 29, 2017
By Brooke Binns
ELKINS — Graduates of YouthBuild North Central came together on Thursday to celebrate their completion of a program that gives them a chance to succeed.
During the ceremony, many students noted that their peers helped to guide them along the way as they grew to become a special family.
In addition to showing appreciation for their peers, crew members gave thanks to their support team — the staff of YouthBuild — who gave constant help and positive guidance to graduates. The YouthBuild staff members include Karen Jacobson, Michelle Phares, Thomas Akers, Heather Fowler, Tara Webley, Randy Cunningham, Otto High, Loren Fortney and Tiffany Dodd.
Representatives from Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, and from Congressman Alex Mooney’s office, among other local county and city officials, attended the graduation held at the Phil Gainer Community Center.
Peggy Hawse, a representative for Manchin, read a message from the senator.
“To you, as graduates, together as a team you have been involved in countless hours of community service. … Our state is so special because our citizens are always willing to provide a helping hand to their neighbors, making our state a better place to work, live and raise a family, and you have been a vital part of that tradition of excellence,” Hawse said.
Otto High, construction trainer assistant for YouthBuild North Central, said the program works to help create productive members of the workforce, which Stephen Smoot, a representative for Mooney, said is important to the promotion of West Virginia.
Smoot said when companies are moving to the state, officials often ask, “Who is going to help build?” or “Who is going to help maintain?” or “Who is going to help produce?”
“Thank you all for being part of that solution,” Smoot said. “You all have found an opportunity and have seized it.”
Together the graduates completed more than 4,000 community service hours.
Todd Gunter, a representative for Capito, also offered greetings.
“I hope you carry the spirit of service with you and inspire others to serve,” Gunter read.
Kathy Vance, local business owner, said all the graduates have made an impact with the numerous downtown projects they were instrumental in completing.
“I want to tell you, you have left your mark on our community with your service hours,” Vance said. “Every time a tourist sees one of your benches, or if you or your family members are driving through town and you see one of those nicely painted trash bins sitting on the corner – know you helped give it life.”
Mayor Van Broughton noted, because of their hard work, the YouthBuild crew members have helped to make Elkins a better place to live.