By: Tony McCray
Pensacola, FL – On Saturday, April 1st, Unity in the Family Ministry, graduated twenty-five (25) students in their second Environmental Career Worker Training Program where the trainees have matriculated through twelve weeks of free training from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm five days a week. Most the program instructors, counselors, advisory board and the administrative staff are from the Pensacola area. However, several technical trainers traveled to Pensacola from New Orleans and Panama City to shore up the local instruction team.
The graduation program was a testament to the hard work and attitude adjustment that was achieved by the trainees who in most cases had not been in an academic environment in years. Janet Avant, the program’s Administrative Assistant, served as the Mistress of Ceremony and set the tone for the event with a message to the families and friends that were present in the standing room only church setting. She made it clear to the congregation of supporters present that their transportation, baby-sitting, and cheerleading participation in this educational process “made a big difference in their achievement”! Dr. Calvin Avant brought the Welcome citing the challenges and the accomplishments achieved by the trainees in their completion of the curriculum.
Minister Rodney Jones, Pastor/CEO of New World Believers Ministry and NAACP Pensacola Branch President, slammed the consciousness of those in attendance with his original poem “I Know I’ve Been Changed”. The audience gave Jones a standing ovation with shouts of “Amen” and “Right On” in the background. The message he gave to the graduates reflected on some of their personal experiences of making bad choices that now they are on the road of redeeming themselves and their lives.
The keynote speaker for the graduation was personally sought after by Dr. Avant because of his life experiences and the example he could set for the graduates to remain on a path of continued personal and career growth. Taran Black, a Lakeview Center Case Manager, did not let Avant down, as he gave a very frank and personal reflection of his life story. He began with a hard-hitting historical view of his life in incarceration beginning at the age of eight years old in the third grade. He continued his experience in and out of juvenile confinement programs until the age of seventeen when he finally decided he had enough of fighting the system and he became a part of the system by obtaining his Associates Degree in Pre-Law and a B.A. Degree in Legal Studies.
The stage was now set for the conferring of the certificates upon the following students: Fredrick Augustine, Marcus Blakenship, Antuan Harris Jr., Kewhan Landrum, Michael McCorvey, Kishaun Odom, Michael Pugh, Javonte Shoemo, Quinton Thigpen, Joseph Webster, Ernest Webster III, Marquis Williams, Jesse Williams, and Vincent Wilson Jr.
In addition to training certificate special awards were also given out to the following graduates: Adrian Iglesias and Andrew Moore for Perfect Attendance; Frank Rodgers received the Perseverance Award; Marvin McShan was chosen for the Hard Worker Award; Darryl Richardson was the recipient of the Most Improved Award; Lula Fountain and Marquis Hicks received the Directors Award; the Basic Skill Student of the Year went to Jemain McCreary; Technical Training Student of the Year went to Tylen Brown; and Overall Student of the Year went to Thomas Watson III. Each of the special awards included financial gifts between $150.00 to $300.00. These awardees also received training certificates in:
40 Hours Hazwoper
32 Hours of Asbestos Abatement
16 Hour Lead Abatement
30 Hour OSHA
40 Hour Basic Construction and Weatherization
8 Hour Mold Remediation
For those interested in the next environmental jobs training program please contact Dr. Calvin Avant at (850) 433-9377 or call his cell at (850) 748-0675.