Earlier this year, the City of Newport News and Volunteers of America Chesapeake received a grant from the Department of Labor to create Newport News Youthbuild to engage city residents ages 16-24 in job readiness training, financial literacy classes and career exploration opportunities. The program goal is to help young people obtain employment in construction and other in-demand industries, including carpentry, maintenance and pre-apprenticeships in plumbing, heating ventilation and air conditioning, and electrical services.
Through the program, participants received carpentry training that focused on how to shape and install building materials during the construction of residential homes. During training at the city’s Four Oaks Training Center, students learned techniques, as well as the importance of precise measurements and teamwork in the construction process. Safety was a critical part of the training and students were credentialed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Young people were able to put their new skills to good use by working with Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg to build a home in the city’s Southeast Community. Students worked alongside the construction crew and volunteers to help build a home for a single mother and her two young children. The project gave students a chance to implement safety measures learned during OSHA training and receive professional instruction from certified grade A construction professionals.
After helping with the home for two days, young people in the program reflected on how life-changing the work had been. Many said it was inspiring to do something that improved their future while helping others. Damon Washington, a YouthBuild participant, stated, “What you do now will go a long way in the future to prepare for self, family and the community.”