MontcoWorks NOW is helping people find a new profession in Montgomery County

NARYSTOWN – People pay in advance by helping others find significant jobs in Montgomery County.

MontcoWorks NOW, an agency affiliated with Montgomery County Intermediate Units, is committed to helping teens ages 14 to 24 by offering resources for employment.

The MontcoWorks NOW Experience Program, launched in 2018, “offers employment opportunities such as pre-training programs, internships and on-the-job training”.

MontcoWorks NOW is funded under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, federal legislation passed in 2014, according to Daniel Haminski, administrator of the College Preparation and Career Program, who added that nearly 100 participants participate in this year’s program.

Along with the programs, funding covers a variety of services and resources for attendees, ranging from paperwork and paperwork, and ending with work clothes and interviews, according to MontcoWorks NOW Youth Workforce career counselor Hakim Jones.

“These programs are aimed at investing in young people, and our goal is to achieve the best results,” Jones said.

Jones said this particular workforce-based initiative has grown by connecting with more than 50 employers in a variety of industries.

“You teach them more about yourself, and in the end, you just change their lives,” Jones said of the young people he works with.

The program is life changing

Jones stressed that these connections provide potentially transformational opportunities for youth here in Montgomery County.

“It changed me because I went from a little boy to a man,” said Joshua Heath, a 25-year-old Norristown resident who works in the Norristown Department of Public Works.

Heath came to the Norristown Department of Public Works through MontcoWorks NOW. According to Jones, the municipal public works department has four employees who have passed the county program.

“They’re full-time community workers, and they live in a community, they grew up in a community, and their lives changed dramatically overnight because they participated in the program and took all the necessary steps,” Jones said.

Although “this is not official between the city and the Hakim program,” Public Works Director Thomas Adeningbo expressed sincere gratitude for the working relationship that has been established over the past few years. Jones also serves as an advisor to Norristown City Council.

“It really was a very useful program for us,” Odeningbo said.

Relations with the community

As a 2015 Norristown High School graduate, Heath first knew Jones as his football coach.

Heath said after high school he wanted to play football and pursue culinary arts.

“It went wrong,” Heath said. “I got into trouble, and then when I got out of trouble, I came to the first person I know that will help me get out of the predicament, the situation I found myself in. It was Hakim. “

They later recovered off the field when Heath recalled finding it difficult to find better employment options. Heath began his internship at the municipal public works department in 2019.

Gaining an understanding of a variety of responsibilities, including mowing the grass, picking up trash, and maintaining local roads, he moved from an internship to a part-time job. He eventually got a full-time job on a public works payroll, where he works as a street sweep operator.

“It’s a very big responsibility,” Adeningbo said. “It’s something you don’t give to anyone. You need to make sure you can do this before I can give it to you. He is now the operator of the cleaning machine. It shows how much I trust him. “

For the past three years, Heath has also received commercial driver’s certificates.

“He didn’t have a car. Now you have two cars, ”Adeningbo said.

What makes a difference

Jones emphasized his admiration for Heath’s progress throughout his career.

“He went from working at a job where he wasn’t paid a lot of money, to just being able to make a living, start a family, and even now, with a promotion, he contributed to his success,” Jones said.

According to Jones, the Norristown Public Works Department employs about 20 people who have noticed that Department veterans have helped guide newcomers such as Heath and his colleague Edwin Curera.

“They treat them like part of a team,” Jones said. “They care about them. They want them to win, and they also want them to earn a job when it’s open. I put my hat in front of the guys who were here, they worked here, and they are also teachers. “

Success is growing

Currero, 21, of Norristown, is connected to MontcoWorks NOW through the Montgomery County Intermediate Group, located at 2 Lafayette Street, in Norristown. In 2019, he graduated from Norristown High School.

“After I graduated, I wasn’t very sure what I wanted to do,” Curera said. “I had the option to go to college, but I didn’t know I didn’t want to spend money because I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Although Curera said he had initially conducted a “career assessment”, he was not interested in the results. But the path led him to public works.

Curera underwent an internship and got a full-time job in the municipal public works department of the municipality.

Currero is currently working on an “herbal crew” that includes several responsibilities, including maintaining parks, collecting leaves, installing street signs and repairing roads. But Curera said he learned a lot about himself while working in public works.

I will be nervous with a lot of people before, ”he said. “It took me a long time to open up to these guys.

“It taught me a lot of life skills and things I could use in the future, getting out of my comfort zone, meeting all these guys helped change my personality,” Curera said, adding that “really, the people you work with. , really make your day ”.


Jones stressed the importance of the program to society.

“I keep telling them that it’s important for our children, young children, to see in society people who look like them who work in these roles, because traditionally African Americans have found it difficult to find work in many areas like this,” said Jones.

“So I think they set a good tone, set a good example and show the community that it’s possible, and they live, work, raise their families, and they go back to the community they grew up in.”

Both Heath and Kurera agreed that their time in Norristown’s public works had been a positive experience for them.

“I feel confident, motivated, the star here is the limit,” Heath said. “As he (Odeningbo) always says you can become a director.”

“They’re here because they deserve to be here,” Adeningbo said. “And I really thank Hakim Jones for this program because it really was a very good situation for our community.”

According to Khaminsky, almost 100 people are participating in this year’s MontcoWorks NOW initiative, another 50 have completed the program.

“After they leave our program, we do the following services, where our consultants keep in touch with them throughout the year,” said Khaminsky.

Jones added that past participants will often “serve as ambassadors of the program” and be teachers for those involved.

Now, three years later, Heath has set aside time to work in the municipality’s public works department to give thanks.

“I just want to say that these two guys put their necks out for me,” Heath said. “I really appreciate it.”

“We appreciate you,” Jones replied.

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