GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - An old abandoned building in Gulfport is now providing opportunities for at risk youth in the community. Monday, Climb Community Development Corporation held a ribbon cutting at its new headquarters on 30th Avenue.
The students at Climb CDC's new Workforce Training Institute are eager to learn. Education is their opportunity to turn their lives around, to get a job, and be able to support themselves.
"This is a good class for people who is trying to get their life right, some pregnant people who can't go back to school and just dropped out, kicked out of their homes," Shanae Armstead said.
Armstead is one of more than 450 who have graduated from the culinary arts program or the YouthBuild construction program. Armstead graduated top of her class, has a job and is about to begin college classes to become a nurse.
When asked where she would be without the program she said, "I honestly couldn't answer that question because being in YouthBuild got me my very first ever job, so I probably wouldn't be doing anything good right now."
At the end of seven to nine months, students have their GED, on the job training and are ready to enter the workforce. The non profit works with local business owners to place students in jobs.
Restaurant owner Rob Stinson has hired several of the culinary graduates.
"I think the beauty of it is they have the logistical skills they need and they understand what a business is looking for. It's absolutely a wonderful training program," Stinson said.
Just last week, training began in the new 27,000 square foot building Climb CDC leaders just finished renovating. The new building means more students can take advantage of this opportunity. This semester the non profit can accept up to 113 students.
"This has been a long time coming," Climb CDC Chief Executive Officer Lori West said. "We know that we will be breaking the cycle of generational poverty by providing these students, low to moderate income students, access to opportunities that inspire self reliance."
In just a few months, there will be a new career path option for students, tech computer networking and cable installation.