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When we teamed up with Adam Helfman, CR, at Fairway Construction to build The Community Addition, aka Model reMODEL 2000, we told him we wanted Job Corps students to help build it. His response was immediately positive; in fact, Adam's worked with Detroit's underprivileged youth in other arenas.
|Adam Helfman, third from left, talks with the Job Corps students working on the Model reMODEL 2000. Looking on is Job Corps instructor Jim Hangii, in hardhat, who Helfman says is "a major factor in helping these kids get ahead."
But Helfman took the proposition a step further. In addition to bringing anywhere from 10 to 15 students to the jobsite each day, Helfman said he was willing to do a presentation to the students to tell them about the opportunities available in the remodeling industry. Last week, that presentation took place at the site of Model reMODEL 2000.
About a dozen students gathered on the blacktop of the new Job Corps facility in Detroit where the project is being constructed to hear what Helfman had to say. "I talked about the business we're in," he says. "I gave them a history of the industry and told them the size of the industry." Helfman talked about the labor shortage, and how important it is for a remodeler to find good, quality workers. "I told them if they show up on time, put in a hard's days work and are willing to work they could make $50,000 to $100,000 a year," he says.
Students asked Helfman questions, too, such as how many hours they'd be expected to work. They also asked about his background and how his career unfolded.
"[Job Corps] is a last chance for these kids," Helfman says. "[Instructor] Jim Hangii is a major factor in helping these kids get ahead. Some social programs do work. This is where our tax dollars are making a difference.
|About a dozen Job Corps students worked on the project the day Helfman made his presentation on the industry and Fairway. Student questions included the length of the work week and when Fairway would be hiring.
Helfman has promised to bring applications to the site. "They have to show up every day and be consistent and be willing to learn," he says. "I told them our starting wages and that we'd review them after 90 days on the job. Those who are taking advantage of this are working to get ahead."
Helfman says going into Model reMODEL, the expectation with the students was to teach them each trade associated with building a house. He said he didn't have a feeling for how interested the students would be in the project. He knows now. "I feel I got through to a few of the kids who are interested," he says. "Not only have we reached a few of them, we've inspired many of them. It's sparked their interest."
An unexpected benefit has come of the project for Fairway's employees on the site. Helfman says his people have been enriched by the experience. "They [watch a student and] the framing''s done right, they see the look of accomplishment on [that student''s] face. They're small successes, but for these kids any success is a major thing."
Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodeler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.
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