Housing Nonprofit Begins Training New Workers

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Robison Wells
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While the Habitat for Humanity has long been working to provide good housing at affordable rates, and owners are given a chance to put sweat equity and volunteerism into their work, one worksite in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has changed their model to not only providing housing, but providing job training.

In an area where unemployment is in the double digits and the median income is only $22,000 per year, seven workers have joined the first class of the Habitat for Humanity’s Build and Repair Corps, a pilot program for job training. They are already set for a new cohort to join the ranks in the spring of 2020.

“If you start wrong, you’re going to pay for it forever,” said volunteer instructor Ed Kinsella, in a statement that could be made about starting a simple project or starting a career. The project offers 35-hour-per-week training, giving workers a chance to get a leg up, or reboot.

One such worker is Breana O’Neil, who says she had worked for a time as a construction laborer, before having kids and becoming a single mother, at which point she tried a career as a child care worker. But that didn’t pay enough. She said she joined the Build and Repair Corps “to better my life, for me and my kids. I like doing stuff like this.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Dustin Hanford, who considered himself a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. He said "It's an opportunity that I'm not going to have much longer. A fresh start on a new career."

To learn more about the Build and Repair Corps, read the Berkshire Eagle.

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