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RIVERSIDE, Calif.— People once incarcerated can now gain new skills and find a job, thanks to a new homebuilding training program recognized Sunday, January 19 by the Riverside Clergy Association at the 16th Annual Martin Luther King Day “Making a Difference” program at Park Ave Baptist Church in Riverside, California.
Among the dignitaries attending the event were: Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey, Riverside Councilmember Andy Melendrez, Riverside Community College Trustee Mary Figueroa, and Interim Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez.
The Prison-2-Employment program, launched last year, represents a unique partnership between the Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter, San Bernardino Community College District, San Bernardino County Workforce and Economic Development Department, and the San Bernardino County Probation Department.
County partners provide funding and help to identify people for the program, the college trains participants in homebuilding skills and the BIA chapter helps place them in jobs with 30 member companies that will hire them for entry-level jobs in residential plumbing, plastering, carpentry, HVAC and more to help fill a shortage of skilled workers in the industry.
“This program represents collaboration at its best,” RCA President Paul Munford said in presenting program representatives with the association’s Champions for Justice Award. “It’s proof that when a community comes together for a cause, it can make a difference in people’s lives.”
“The BIA has a longstanding commitment of service to the industry and the community, and this program supports that mission,” Baldy View Chapter Chief Executive Officer Carlos Rodriguez said. “We are grateful for the dedication of our program partners and for the vision of former Board President Ali Sahabi whose leadership helped bring everyone together to make this happen.”
SBCCD Interim Chancellor Jose F. Torres explained how the program reflects the college district’s mission to serve its students and the community.
“Addressing the workforce needs of our community is our highest priority,” Torres said. “With this skills training partnership, we are providing ex-offenders with a second chance to make an honest living and live a better life.”
Ali Sahabi, BIA Baldy View Board President from 2017-2019 and President of Optimum Group, acknowledged the hard work put in by everyone to establish the program. Today, he said, other chapters are looking into creating similar programs of their own.
“Our program was the first of its kind in the state, and now, it may be replicated in other parts of California,” he said. “Locally, we are helping individuals restart their lives, businesses find trained labor and communities to build more affordable housing. With other programs launched throughout the state, just think of the impact this program will have on the lives of others.”
ABOUT BIA BALDY VIEW CHAPTER
The mission of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, Baldy View Chapter is to promote, advocate for and grow the homebuilding industry through member representation and community education at the local level. In addition, the Baldy View Chapter maintains a presence and influence on industry-related issues at regional, state and national levels. Visit www.BIAbuild.com.