When Michael Diaz became involved with Newport News YouthBuild, he didn’t know what to expect, but he was ready to take the next step in his life. A Newport News Public Schools graduate, Michael was interested in the hands-on training YouthBuild offered, as well as the weekly stipend.
Michael joined the six-month program in April 2021 and quickly became a stand-out student. YouthBuild’s classroom training exposed Michael to multiple facets of the trades and construction industry, including HVAC, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and much more. Skilled and compassionate instructors encouraged and challenged Michael and his classmates, constantly pushing them to learn as much as possible while also looking for ways to improve themselves and their community. He received his National Center for Construction Education and Research credential, as well as OSHA and CPR certificates. Michael also graduated with a Leadership Award for his excellence during the program. Through his other trainings, he gained the knowledge needed to develop committees and groups for reviewing safety training materials and address complaints in the workplace.
In addition to classroom experience, Michael and the other YouthBuild participants put their skills to use in the real-world with Habitat for Humanity. They worked alongside licensed contractors to build homes in the Southeast Community of Newport News.
A key part of the YouthBuild program is job shadowing. During this portion of the program, Michael was able to get involved with Breeden Construction. The Breeden leadership team was impressed with Michael and commented that he had great promise, a natural skill set, and leadership ability. After Michael graduated from the program, he was quickly hired by Breeden as a Carpentry Laborer.
To Michael, this is more than a job, it is a career and dream realized. Thanks to Breeden, he is now thriving in the profession of his choice, which includes insurance and benefits. Michael is now working with the Breeden team to help build the apartment complex that is part of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in the Southeast Community, near where he worked with Habitat for Humanity.
Newport News YouthBuild provides young people ages 16-24 the education and hands-on training they need for in-demand careers. The program is a joint collaboration between the City of Newport News and Volunteers of America Chesapeake and Carolinas. To learn more, visit www.voachesapeake.org/youthbuild.