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New program at Hawkeye Community College introduces people to construction trades

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:43 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new program at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo is giving young people a chance to find a career path in the skilled trades. The pre-apprenticeship program is called “We Build Waterloo.”

The program lets 18-24 year olds get a glimpse of more than a dozen construction trades. The first We Build Waterloo project is rehabbing a home for a potential first time home buyer, and those chosen to take part on the project come from all backgrounds.

For Daulton Graff, this program is also an opportunity to rehab his image.

“Recently I just got released from Federal prison,” he said. “So I’m trying to get my life back together. It definitely opened some new doors. New doors, new openings, new people I could meet to make myself successful.”

The program gives students a lot of hands on experience. All the workers wear masks and spread out as much as they can. Students will learn trades like building, plumbing and electrical while working on the home.

The goal is for them to find one they like enough to make their career. Hawkeye gives them their own set of tools. Leaders say they will also help them find jobs in the field they like afterwards.

“I will work with them as long as they want and until they are employed as they want to be,” said Val Peterson, Workforce Development Coordinator.

The home they are working on is on East First Street in Waterloo. It is owned by the non-profit One City United.

They help people with social service needs. Leaders say fixing this home will get rid of some of the blight in the neighborhood. The homeowner will also take pride in the home.

“To give someone the opportunity to have a home that is theirs,” said Dean Feltes, Executive Director with One City United. “That they can do what they want with it. They can fix it up how they want to fix it up. They can bring family and friends in to something they own. Again, this is really about hope.”

It’s hope for the homeowner, and a second chance for Graff.

“It feels great, it does,” he said. “Some people don’t get it, but I’m glad I got mine.”

The goal is to have the home finished by November. Grant money is helping pay for the program. For more details on We Build Waterloo: https://www.hawkeyecollege.edu/business-community/training/apprenticeship/we-build-waterloo-pre-apprenticeship

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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