For years, the Job Corps program has been around, impacting the lives of many young people, not just in the DMV area, but across the nation. From New Bern, North Carolina, Varshay Allen is one of the many students who came to the D.C. area, for the Potomac Job Corps.
“The Job Corps program has made a huge difference in my life,” said Allen, who is a lead service attendant (LSA) with Amtrak, working in catering.
Allen was able to gain skills to work at Amtrak during his time at Potomac Job Corps, which provides job training, education, housing, career counseling and job placement for 16- to 24-year-olds who fit the criteria based on economic consideration.
“Job Corps has been around since the 1960s,” said Richard Semancik, chief operation officer for Eckerd Connects, a contractor with the U.S. Department of Labor. “Since it is federally funded, each state is involved. There are 124 centers across the country. Eckerd Connects is humble to be a part of this venture.”
In the Potomac Job Corps, there are 318 students with various backgrounds. Housing, career counseling and education are provided for all students. Some are working on high school diplomas or GEDs. The skill training is key for Job Corps participants,, who might study careers from culinary arts, to welding or plumbing, among others.
With all of its success in the local area, the local Job Corps recently decided to take the program to another level of credibility. In an effort to celebrate the graduates of the program and offer an added incentive, the Potomac Job Corps recently held its first-ever Hall of Fame inductions for participants who have completed the program.
Allen was an inaugural inductee, and, as a full time employee with Amtrak, proves to be a Job Corps success story.
“When I started out, I was lacking in confidence. But there were so many people in the program who were willing to give guidance and help, [and] at the same time allowed you to become more confident,” he said.
The Amtrak employee said being inducted into Potomac Job Corps’ hall of fame “is a great honor.”
“I never thought I would be in this position. But when I thought about this morning before the ceremony, I could not help but think that this honor is not all about me,” Allen emphasized. “ It is really about young people with similar challenges to mine and seeing me as an example of taking advantage of a program like this, where people are willing to help you and make a difference in your life.”
Semancik said Potomac Job Corps approached hall-of-famer Darrell Green in order to take their ceremony up a notch.
“We knew of his profile in the DMV area, and of his legendary status as a member of the Washington football team and a hall of famer himself,” Semancik told The Informer. “He is a man of great character and we felt that his stature would help elevate the program.”
Green said he immediately accepted the offer.
“I love the Job Corps,” proclaimed Green, who heads up several programs and foundations for youth. “I knew about the Job Corps program when I was young growing up back in Houston, but did not take advantage of it for various reasons. Then later when I learned of all the opportunities it affords young people, I was all in.”
Green gave a passionate speech to the gathering, discussing his own upbringing and trials. He noted how programs like Potomac Job Corps can make a difference.
“I had my own personal challenges growing up,” Green explained. “When you look at what this program does to help those who may need a second chance, or be introduced to a program where you can take advantage of all that offers to change your life, it is a blessing.”
Source: Washington Informer