BRYAN, TEXAS – An innovative new program has prepared seven women for employment as Facilities Maintenance Workers – training they can put to use when they are released from the Brazos County Detention Center. The participants were recognized at a ceremony on Dec. 12, where they received their certificates.
The women were awarded the OSHA 10-hour certificate and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core curriculum certificate. The training prepared the women to handle basic maintenance work at a facility such as an apartment complex, office building, or business plant or warehouse.
The 200-hour program is a collaborative training initiative by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), Blinn College and the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office. The program covered general knowledge of the tools of the trade and provided hands-on training in the basics of carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
The program is the first of its kind in Brazos County, according to Sheriff Chris Kirk, and this was the first class for women at the Detention Center. The inaugural class of 12 men completed the program in May 2019.
“This is a natural partnership with educational organizations, Blinn and TEEX, to give these students a head start on a new career. We want to give them the tools to be successful, …. assimilate back into the community and not come back to our jail.” He congratulated the participants on their efforts to better themselves, and addressing the audience, Kirk said, “Family support is everything. They need cheerleaders to help them realize their worth and their potential.”
The seven students also prepared a speech for the ceremony, which was delivered by Bonita Pennygraph. They thanked the instructors who not only taught them trade skills but also emphasized their value. “They told us our past will not define our future,” she said. “They did not allow us to give up, but gave us hope. We now have a way to support our families.”
“It’s a win-win for the community,” said Mark Posada, Assistant Director of TEEX. “Local businesses are always looking for qualified workers for facility maintenance, so this is a good way to fill those needs and help the detainees.”
The OSHA card and NCCER certificate are recognized nationwide, so the participants can pursue employment in any state, Posada added. And the NCCER Level 1 certificate is eligible for nine credit hours toward Blinn’s Associate of Applied Science Trade and Applied Technology degree, he said.
The next Facilities Maintenance course will be offered at the Detention Center in early 2020.
(Photo Caption: TEEX Deputy Director Al Davis, second from right, congratulates one of the graduates of the Facilities Maintenance Program, along with TEEX Assistant Director Mark Posada and Dayana Borges-Wells, Reentry Specialist at the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office.)