- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

When the economy takes a severe downturn, finding a quality job is particularly tough for those with little education. Tavon Lambert, 22, brushed off those discouraging thoughts and took charge of his life with assistance of the Potomac Job Corps Center.

“In January 2008, I was sitting on the porch at my mom’s house, browsing the employment section of the local newspaper,” said Mr. Lambert, a native Washingtonian. “A Job Corps advertisement caught my eye, and I decided to investigate it more closely. The decision I made that day has improved my life forever.”

Job Corps is the nation’s largest residential, educational and career technical training program for disadvantaged people ages 16 through 24. Centers are open 24 hours a day, every day, and hold two-week training breaks twice a year. Since the program’s inception in 1964, Job Corps has helped prepare more than 2 million young Americans for success in the work force.

Mr. Lambert started at the Job Corps in February 2008 and received certification in the plumbing trade. “On top of that,” he said, “I’ve been admitted as a full-time student at the University of the District of Columbia.”

The Potomac Job Corps Center near the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Southwest is one of 122 centers in the U.S. It teaches employable skills to more than 700 students a year and prepares them to secure meaningful jobs or opportunities for further education.

“Job Corps is a great opportunity for all youths to reach their full potential,” said Jeff Barton, director of the center. “The program helps students create their road map for a bright and successful future.”

Julia Irving, community outreach coordinator at the Metropolitan Police Department’s 6th District, said, “Recently, I ‘experienced’ Potomac Job Corps Center and was so impressed with students that I immediately recruited one of them to be an intern for me.”

The Job Corps, created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, once was perceived as a place for the delinquent and rejected.

Job Corps has changed that image by helping youths and young adults such as Mr. Lambert further their education and skill sets outside traditional school settings.

“I never imagined I could accomplish so much during such a short period of time,” Mr. Lambert said.

• Bryan Nabiyev is business community liaison for Potomac Job Corps Center.

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