The District of Columbia Housing Authority’s Modified Apprenticeship Training Program (ATP), which held its first class in March 2018, has 32 apprentices in this year’s class who are graduating and ready for the job world.

Following six months of training in the fields of carpentry, electrical, landscaping, and plumbing, among others, the apprentices, who live in DCHA communities, gained skills while earning a paycheck and helping to enhance the appearance and curb appeal of DCHA properties.

“For me, I’ve been to school and taken classes, but I never had an opportunity for hands-on training,” said Michael Foushee as he attended a job fair on October 18 at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center. “I appreciate that the most about the program.”

Dewayne Porter, who heard about the program from a friend who graduated last year, agreed.

“That is the best part of the program. It was working with my hands,” he said. “It made me learn so much using the tools and not just writing down a bunch of things, but getting my hands dirty.”

Guy Raspberry said that he interviewed for ATP to better his existing skills and learn new techniques. Every instructor in the program did just that, Raspberry said, including the week-long training that led to a five-year certification from Sherwin Williams.

“Not only did they talk to me about it, they got down and showed me how to do it. These guys are great guys. They did some good teaching in here,” Raspberry said. “This was a great experience.”

The apprentices were at the training center, located at Greenleaf Gardens, or working to improve DCHA properties Monday through Thursday. Fridays were reserved for professional development sessions at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center.

Chanel Johnson, who applied for the program after seeing her husband’s success with the program in its first year, said she enjoyed the resume and interview skills session with A Wider Circle.

“It was so interactive. It made you think,” she said. “I had a great time. It was awesome.”

Johnson said some of the other Friday sessions and the ATP program also taught her social skills to be open to new people and experiences, as well as conflict resolution skills.

The Friday workshops were “a good way to get us into the real world and see what is really going on and how to present ourselves. They are a way to help better ourselves,” said Damon Clark, who noticed the first class working on his property and became interested in the program.

Much of the knowledge the apprentices gained throughout the program and its professional development sessions was being demonstrated at the job fair where they presented their resumes and interviewed for positions within DCHA, U.S. Census Bureau, CIH Properties, Bozzuto, and Edgewood Management. Donohoe Construction, Colonial Parking, AAA Rentals, and Revel Transit also were meeting with the graduates.  

“My goal is to get full-time employment,” Johnson said. “I want a career. I want that end goal. I want to buy that house.”

Clark said he planned on sitting down with each representative to learn about their open positions and to see if how he could fit into their companies.

“These six months probably changed my life, well not changed, but they helped me think better…I’m going in the right direction that I should be going,” Clark said.

Several of the participants said they enjoyed meeting new people and the supportive learning environment. This class had a slogan that several apprentices shared – We are all family.

“ATP is a good opportunity to network, to get skills, brush up on customer service skills, and interacting with people in different situations,” said LeDawn Bynum. “If they have another program, I’d refer people to it, especially if they are just starting out.”


Last modified: 10/23/2019 1:50:45 PM