By: Tony McCray
Unity in the Family Ministry (UITFM) in conjunction with Dillard University graduated twenty-two (22) students in the first year of their Environmental Career Worker Training Program. The trainees matriculated through twelve weeks of free training from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm five days a week beginning with six weeks of basic skills and ending with six weeks of technical training.
Now, Dr. Calvin Avant UITFM’s CEO, is repeating the 2016 process. The second class is on their way to graduation in early Spring on April 1st in the Jolene Avant Center of Excellence (Sanctuary) at 615 N. “W” Street. Once again, Avant has recruited the instructors, counselors, advisory board and the administrative staff mostly from the Pensacola area. Several technical trainers are traveling to Pensacola from New Orleans and Panama City to shore up the local instruction team.
Dr. Avant was approached by Tony McCray, President of Tony McCray and Associates, to apply for the training program’s operational grant in the fall of 2014. Dr. Beverly Wright, the Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University in New Orleans, contacted McCray after she spoke in favor of no further landfill expansion at a Wedgewood landfill moratorium hearing by Escambia County government in the fall of 2014. Avant’s non-profit was notified in the fall of 2015 that the training program funding through Dillard University was approved.
Avant then approached Mike Hicks, CEO of Hixardt Technologies, and Rodney Jones of New World Believers to partner on an application to Escambia County for BP Oil Spill RESTORE Act funding. The non-profit and for-profit businesses got together and branded the collaboration “SOAR With RESTORE”. Last month SOAR With RESTORE was approved by Escambia County for funding under the BP Oil Spill RESTORE Act Program.
The Environmental Career Worker Training Program students will graduate with training in asbestos abatement, lead paint and mold removal, hazard waste clean-up, basic weatherization and construction skills, OSHA training. Highly sought after industry certification certificates in these various environmental industry disciplines will be awarded to these students at graduation. Unity in the Family Ministry will then begin to place the graduates with companies that operate in the areas of environmental job opportunities. With the help of Dillard University’s Deep South Center of Environmental Justice, and the other four sites in the program: Houston, Detroit, Savannah and New Orleans, Unity has the option of offering jobs to its graduates anywhere in the nation.