MEGAN KNIGHT, WMAR —
Inside a massive building on Brehms Lane in East Baltimore are classrooms and workshops filled with opportunities and second chances.
It’s the new building for the Civic Works Center for Sustainable Careers and its giving the non-profit the ability to train more than double the number of people it could at its former facility for sustainable, high-paying jobs.
In one workshop, trainees are learning about asbestos and lead removal, which is part of the Brownfields career track. Jzonna Merritt has been part of this training track for the last couple of months.
“You can do a number of things. You can test the soil, go out and remove the lead and mold,” she said. “You can go out in the dirt and work in the trenches.”
Merritt has had a brush with the law, like most of the trainees who come through the center’s doors. She doesn’t think her felony should prevent her from getting a job. She thinks being a felon actually makes her work harder.
“People tell you that you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. In my mind, I’m taught to believe what you are worth,” she said.
Trainees come to the center for several weeks or months to work toward certificates in five training tracks including solar energy and storm water management.
“They can go to these companies and say, ‘I have these certificates, I’m qualified to do this work.’ And they get the work and they get paid well to do it,” said Wellington Bruce Ashe, the Associate Director for training at the Center for Sustainable Careers.
Ashe says they also work on job skills, such as communication and promptness. They offer case management to help trainees with things like transportation, legal aid, etc.
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