Cleanup effort, training program aim to heal Gary
GARY — As city employees got to work cleaning up areas in the Roosevelt neighborhood Tuesday morning, the city itself received a healthy boost toward getting its youth into the trades.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, along with the Rev. Marvin Davis of New Life Ministry M.B. Church and other dignitaries, accepted $1,041,983 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the church’s YouthBuild Program. The program works with at-risk young people between 16 and 24 to get them into the trades.
Started in 1992, the program can be viewed as a substitute for regular schooling, though Davis doesn’t necessarily encourage students to drop out.
“We don’t want to discourage kids from going to public school,” Davis said. “But we are equipped to address the barriers some students have.”
The program accepts up to 60 students per 34-month cycle, and they are then placed with the Coalition International Trades Training Union, a union that furthers their training an additional 48 months then places them in jobs. More than 900 students have gone on to jobs through the program, said CITT President Chester Dickinson.
Additionally, the Gary Police Foundation, led by board member Len Pryweiler, presented the mayor with a $7,700 check that will go toward community policing programs and equipment.
Meanwhile, city employees, with the help of the General Services and Demolition Departments, got outside and continued work started last week in the Roosevelt neighborhood. The work was conducted as part of the city’s 5x5x5 program, city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington said.
Once the big cleanup is done, General Services stays in touch with people in the neighborhood to help with issues and make sure it’s being kept up.
“So far, we’ve done three neighborhoods: Marshalltown, Froebel-Norton and Roosevelt,” Whittington said. “Marshalltown has been well-organized ever since we cleaned up in June.”