Phyllis Kimber Wilcox | Black Voice News
Harbor Hills Public Housing Authority has partnered with the Los Angeles County Development Authority, (LACDA) and Reignite Hope, a local nonprofit to provide job training for public housing residents. The sixteen week program teaches students welding skills in order to prepare them for high paying jobs–at the end of the course they receive welding certification.
Beginnings in Community Service
The program began as a way to serve the community and to give assistance to those in need. It developed organically from the outreach provided by Steve Bunyard who is the Outreach Pastor for Rolling Hills Covenant Church who partnered with the Fred Jordan Missions to help the homeless population in the community.
During his work with the unhoused he saw that a need existed to close the skills’ gap that created circumstances which would prevent those in need from overcoming the obstacles to self sufficiency. Bunyard, who had welding skills as the previous owner of a business which sold high performance transmission products, decided to teach welding to five unhoused men; the program has changed and expanded that initial work.
From those beginnings, ReIgnite Hope has developed a mobile school to teach welding to those in the community who can’t attend the thirty seat school with state of the art equipment in Gardena, California. The current partnership with the staff at Harbor Hills Public Housing Authority and LACDA is a natural outgrowth of that work.
According to Supervisor Janice Hahn of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, “The kinds of jobs that require a welding certificate are good, well-paying careers, but they aren’t always easy to access. This is an innovative program that connects our public housing residents directly with in-demand job training.”
Emilio Salas, LACDA Executive Director, said, “We strive to go beyond providing housing, by offering opportunities to empower our residents to reach their full potential. Thanks to the partnership with ReIgnite Hope, our public housing residents can learn a new trade and make a career change, especially after the economic impact left on many families by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A New Beginning
Classes are being delivered in a mobile classroom and staff with both Harbor Hills Public Housing Authority and Rolling Hills Covenant Church have worked together to tailor the instruction to the needs of those who are enrolled.
There are thirty students in the first class. Steve Bunyard stated “We are excited about this partnership with Harbor Hills. Rolling Hills Covenant Church has been providing services to the residents at Harbor Hills for decades, including food and tutoring programs. Here at ReIgnite Hope, we wanted to continue the great work the church has been doing by using vocational training to help residents turn their lives around.”
Once the sixteen week program is over, the American Welding Society will test students and provide those who pass with welding certificates. Bunyard is working to create employment plans for graduates and to connect them with employment opportunities as well as to unions and local companies.
For information about the program please call (626) 233-6414.
Phyllis Kimber-Wilcox is a reporter for Black Voice News. Her interests are the intersections of historic events with contemporary realities and their impacts on the persistent social, structural and economic barriers which continue to adversely affect and limit Black lives with an eye toward community-based solutions.