Byron's Fresh Start

Byron with Rudy Johnson, Monica Cummings, and Mitzi Lawrence

Every now and then a person passes through life who makes you a better person. The latest that has been sent our way is “Byron”.  The WIOA staff at Golden Triangle Planning & Development District works with youth 16 to 24 years of age who are out of school and needing assistance in either continuing their education or finding employment.In August Byron came to our office to apply to the WIOA Counseling to Career Program.  Byron was 24 years of age, dropped out of school in the 9th grade, and readily admitted that he had made some bad choices that led to bad circumstances.  He was currently living with his brother and had come to realize that he needed to get focused and start moving in a positive direction.  After talking with Byron, we felt that he was a perfect fit for our program but there was one major problem.  Byron did not have a birth certificate or picture ID; both are required for WIOA program participation.  With staff assistance and personal determination, Byron applied for his birth certificate, got his picture ID, and enrolled in the C2C program. The C2C program consists of personal counseling, 8 sessions of work ethics training, on the job work experience, and follow-up support.  The first day of work ethics training brought concern.  Class started at 8:30 a.m. and everyone was there, except Byron. About 20 minutes into class Byron arrived.  See, Byron’s problem was that he had NO means of transportation.  He had tried to ride the city bus but the route did not bring him to our building, so he had walked the rest of the way.  At that time we realized that Byron was serious about this opportunity and several times throughout the training he stated, “I can’t mess up this opportunity!” The staff worked with him to resolve his transportation issues.  Byron became such a positive, motivational force in the classroom.  He attended all sessions, actively participated in class discussions, and always kept a smile on his face. He successfully completed work ethics training September 24th and is scheduled to start his paid work experience Monday, October 4th.  There is only one problem; a problem that Byron could not solve on his own. He still had no reliable source of transportation.  He assured the staff that he did have transportation---his feet.  Even though he lived about 2 ½ miles from his worksite he said, “That’s no problem.  I can walk to get to work.” Rudy Johnson, Executive Director of Golden Triangle Planning & Development District, had noticed Byron during the course of the program. He had observed his walking to class, noticed his positive attitude, recognized his self-determination, and realized that the lack of transportation was Byron’s biggest barrier to success.  Today, Rudy counseled with him about his job opportunity, commended him on program accomplishments, and, more importantly, lessened his transportation barrier by purchasing him a bike, helmet and security lock.While others may make excuses for not attending class or doing what is expected of them, Byron finds a way. Hard work and determination do not go unnoticed!  Congratulations, Byron, on your new job!  The WIOA staff and Rudy are watching you with great expectations.