November 24th, 2020 – ATLANTIC CITY — Natasha Hammond has spent her adult life working odd jobs to make ends meet, but she had aspirations for something better, perhaps becoming an interior and exterior designer.
The only problem for the 25-year-old Atlantic City resident was figuring out where to start.
On Friday morning, Hammond joined 17 other people from Atlantic City, between the ages of 18 and 30, in completing week one of Friends in Action’s Train to Hire program. The 12-week program — now in its fifth year, and third in Atlantic City — will prepare the trainees for trade careers. This year’s session is geared toward a new project being overseen by Atlantic City Electric and Jingoli Power.
“I’ve never come across a program like this, myself,” Hammond said during an opening ceremony at the Atlantic City Police Athletic League building. “But, when I heard about it, I was very excited to join it.”
Atlantic City Electric and Jingoli Power have begun construction on the Community Reliability Project, an undertaking that will replace an existing substation, rebuild two transmission lines between Atlantic City and Brigantine and erect new poles that can withstand hurricane-force winds up to 120 mph. Officials say the project, which is scheduled to be completed by May 2022, will create a “stronger and more resilient energy grid to reduce the impacts of more powerful storms.”
Dave Velazquez, president and CEO of Pepco Holdings, the parent company of ACE, said, “strengthening and modernizing our infrastructure is critical to helping our shore communities become more resilient to the threats posed by climate change.”
“I’m thrilled to see this project also serve as an opportunity for young adults to launch careers in energy and learn about the work it takes to make the local energy grid more resilient,” he said about the Atlantic City jobs program.
The principals behind the Train to Hire program stressed to the participants Friday that what they would learn and the hands-on experience would not lead to a job — it would result in a career.
“Jobs you can quit, careers you maintain,” said Anthony Brower, president of Friends in Action.
The trainees spend four hours a day, five days a week engaging in everything from workplace safety, resume writing and job-site training. The classes are free and each participant is given a stipend of $75 per week.
Adrian Reaves, 18, of Atlantic City, said he was looking forward to learning about electrical work, in addition to plumbing and carpentry. Reaves, a graduate of the Atlantic County Institute of Technology, said he liked working with his hands and believed the jobs program was something “good to be a part of.”
“This is going to give me the opportunity to show what I can do,” he said.
Joe Jingoli, CEO of Joseph Jingoli and Son — the parent company of Jingoli Power — and co-owner of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, told the trainees that there were “very high hopes” for them and expressed confidence that they would ultimately succeed.
“Our friends at Friends in Action are going to be throwing a lot at you the next few weeks and a lot is going to be expected,” he said. “But, in return, it’s a great opportunity. …We have very, very high hopes and very high expectations, and we’re going to be here for you.”
Source: The Press of Atlantic City