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Encouraging Others to Try Something New

Taking hope and opportunity to the streets, these SkillsUSA students help the less fortunate get training and find their way into the workforce.


Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement and a friendly face to help a person find a new opportunity.

That’s how SkillsUSA members, including Patricia Reed-Davenport and Joyce Ellis (pictured at left), got their disadvantaged neighbors into the Helping Others Possess Empowerment (HOPE) program.

With the help of fellow members at Atlanta Technical College, Reed-Davenport and Ellis partnered with the city of Atlanta, the Peoplestown Revitalization Force and a staffing services company, Eagle Group International Inc., to begin an employment readiness program.

HOPE is aimed at recruiting and training individuals interested in getting jobs in customer service. The group targets the less fortunate within specific neighborhoods where residents may not have access to phones or transportation. The first neighborhood targeted was the Peoplestown borough, near downtown.

To recruit, chapter members did the planning and implementation of a community registration day event, Reed-Davenport says. They handed out fliers, painted signs and set up a carnival of sorts to get folks out of their homes to learn about the opportunities. At the event, students manned a booth to register students for the eight-week satellite program offered through the college. They also helped with a cookout, manned a moon bounce, helped with face painting and even judged a dance contest.

And, their work didn’t stop at recruiting. With grant money, program organizers bought briefcases, books, pens, pencils, computer diskettes, note pads, thank-you notes and stamps. The students helped to assemble the materials. Then they volunteered to assist the program participants, who attended classes on Saturdays and served in internships at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“We gave them lunch. We provided transportation. We acted as mentors. And then when they completed the class, we went to the airport and interviewed their superiors to see how they were doing. We did a follow-up,” Reed-Davenport says.

She adds that the program, besides helping folks kick-start their employment opportunities, has helped the SkillsUSA chapter establish a relationship between the school and the community.

In all, 16 participants signed up, 10 completed the program and nine received jobs. One participant actually returned to the college and completed the entire customer service program, and her daughter is now enrolled in the accounting program.

HOPE organizers plan to target more neighborhoods in the Atlanta area.

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SkillsUSA Champions | Spring 2006 | Volume 40, No. 3
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