Upon winning the contract to build a new affordable housing complex for the nonprofit Passage Home, North Carolina-based Monteith Construction Corp. was determined to find a way to support the organization’s mission of ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness by giving a hand up, not a handout. To incorporate the group’s emphasis on self-reliance and empowerment, Monteith Construction proposed a mentoring program in which the firm would hire local residents to help build the Passage Home—providing them with a skill set that would position them to find more work in the future. 

To make this possible, Monteith Construction turned to Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Carolinas Chapter and its apprenticeship training partner Wake Tech Community College to sponsor the four men that Passage Home recruited for the project: Javares Judd, William Cannady, William Turner and Shmaar Cain. The sponsorships covered the cost of an eight-week course on tools, safety, blueprint reading, math and other skills needed to work on the jobsite, as well as NCCER certification. 

“Every student succeeded in passing the course, and it was very encouraging to see how hard some of them worked to gain that success,” says Michael Moore, Wake Tech’s director of apprenticeship training. “One student drove 26 miles from his home to the campus on a moped during rush hour traffic and back home again after the class let out at 10 p.m. This student was always on time and always prepared for class. His dedication was truly inspiring.”
 
At the project’s groundbreaking ceremony held last December, the men expressed their gratitude for being given a chance to get back on their feet. 

“One of the young men explained how grateful he was that he had the opportunity to turn his life around and do better for himself,” says ABC Carolinas Vice President of Membership Michelle Lewter. “It really touched my heart.” 

As the project continues through the fall, the trainees will have the opportunity to gain additional hands-on experience in the areas they enjoyed and excelled at during their coursework. 

“The mentorship and training they will receive onsite during the project’s span will no doubt set them up with future career opportunities,” says Kylie Maddox, who handles Monteith Construction’s community relations efforts. 

Going forward, the firm hopes to use this project as a pilot for a formal mentoring program in which the company helps unemployed or underemployed residents learn a craft and earn a sustainable income. 

“Community involvement is a part of who we are,” Maddox says. “We want the nonprofits we work with to know that we care about what they stand for.”