Rockford mayor honors successes of Workforce Development Program

City leaders say the program is proven to be successful in both changing young adults lives, and rebuilding Rockford.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 10:24 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Rockford Workforce Development Program aims to mentor young adults in Rockford, all while benefiting the city. Rockford Mayor Thomas McNamara says the first group to kick it off in April, nailed it.

“For the longest time, I wanted to be a mentor to minorities,” said LT Construction Owner Albert Weather. “I’ve been seeing a problem in Rockford for a long time.”

That’s why, when Weathers heard the opportunity to pair his decades of construction experience with a program to help young people in Rockford, it was no-brainer.

“They all came and went in, and couldn’t hit a nail,” said Weather. But within a week, Weathers says his group of five Workforce Development Program interns, really hit the nail on the head. Quickly, they learned the ropes of construction and their efforts led to build more than three thousand lineal feet of concrete sidewalks in Rockford.

“Already, and we just approved this in April, three out of those five young people have now been hired by local contractors in our community,” said McNamara. “They will be apprentices in the local union, making a livable wage job and really changing their lives and their families lives.”

One of those young adults, is program intern Damarea Mabry. Weathers says she is one of the first black women in the stateline to finish concrete and go into the construction union.

“I never thought I would be in the position that I am, furthering my knowledge in this,” said Mabry.

Weathers says this is not only just the beginning for Mabry, but an open door to anyone looking for work and life experience, that will benefit them right now and in the years to come.

“When you a learn a skill, no one can take away your skill,” said Weathers. “So I’m depositing something into the rest of their lives.”

Tuesday night, Rockford City Council approved an additional $250,0000 dollars towards the Workforce Development program, to keep it’s pathway running.

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