'Never in a million years did I think I would be standing here' | Cherry Street Mission program readies graduates for the workforce

Cherry Street Mission's Workforce Development Program graduated four people Friday. Some already have jobs waiting for them.

We’ve been reporting for months on employers having a hard time finding workers.

program offered by the Cherry Street Mission is helping to connect those employers with people who are ready to make a positive change in their lives.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be standing here,” Dominic Beltran said at his graduation ceremony at Cherry Street Mission on Friday.

Beltran said it’s because until about nine months ago, drugs and alcohol ruled his life.

“I wasn’t able to get up since I was under the influence. So it made it very difficult to make it anywhere I needed to go,” Beltran said.

He went through rehab with the Salvation Army, which led him to Cherry Street Mission’s Workforce Development Program.

“It feels very good,” Beltran said. “Honestly, I don’t know how to explain it.”

Courses taught by Northwest State Community College and Owens Community College instructors are offered in building trades, office specialist and auto tech, among others.

“What we’ve done is looking at what are some of the in-demand jobs that are happening in Lucas County right now. We try to stay in touch with that and we offer programs to help bring people to those positions,” Tami Norris, Vice President of Workforce Development for Cherry Street Mission Ministries, said.

The programs are short, taking a couple of months to complete; graduates get a credential supported by the colleges.

“There’s a variety of funding streams available to help pay for the classes,” Norris said. “So we work with you to determine which is the best way to get you funded to go into the classes.”

While the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has dropped to its lowest level since the 1970s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 1.5 million fewer Americans are working than before the pandemic.

The four graduates who got their certificates at Cherry Street now have the skills to get a job that pays a living wage.

Beltran already has one. He’s soon to be working as a roofer.

“I start Monday at 8 a.m.,” he said.

Six months after graduating from Building Trades class at Cherry Street, Dominic has earned a $2 raise and is on track to “have his own crew” as a foreman. Dominic has said that the insight and techniques, soft skills and success training he learned from the class has helped him deal with negative coworkers. Dominic is over one year sober and his relationship with Christ is truly blossoming.

If you’re interested in signing up for a workforce development course, click here.