There are opportunities in life where we can look back and pinpoint the moment everything changed, whether it’s a job, a relationship or school. For Jarrell, our Job & Leadership Training opened up opportunities that gave him a new path in life.

In October 2014, he enrolled in our Job & Leadership Training. Before our program, Jarrell felt he lacked purpose. He explained that lack of purpose made him feel hopeless at times,

“I used to wake up everyday and not have anything to do. I didn’t have nothing to do. At one point, 24 hours out of the day I wasn’t doing anything. I used to tell Mike (JLT Student Relations AmeriCorps VISTA) I didn’t feel human. I just felt like I was going to be a nobody.”

Poverty had wreaked havoc on his life: 
he only completed an eighth grade education, he was unemployed, he was homeless and he was without a support system. Beyond the physical impact, poverty also had a major emotional impact on him, as well.

“The hardest thing was I felt like no one cared about me, especially when I didn’t have a home. It’s like when you don’t have a home, it’s cold, it’s dark, you’re using people for petty stuff in life just to get by and I don’t like to use nobody because I don’t want anybody to use me,” he says.

Then Jarrell enrolled in Job & Leadership Training. 
In JLT, we equip students with skills and training so that when opportunity becomes accessible, our students are able to seize it and make a sustainable change in their lives. Without each student’s own hard work and dedication, there cannot be progress. A student has to want it just as much for themselves as we want it for them, but it’s not always easy. Jarrell worked hard in JLT. While he felt like giving up sometimes, he worked through it. Now, he knows all that he is capable of:

“I know God probably had me go through this to show me how strong I am. At one point I didn’t know how strong I was. In my body, I knew how strong I was, but in mind and heart I didn’t know how strong I was. This place showed me that no matter what you go through, that if you stay in it and you stay focused, then you are going to get where you need to be.”

After he graduated JLT, we were able to connect him with HTH Electrical. Jarrell spent 4 weeks with HTH training in pipe insulation. Today, he is a certified pipe insulator and just completed his first big project in Hannibal.

Because of his hard work, everything is changing. With his new job, he has a steady income that he is actively budgeting. He recently bought a car and has a stable place to live. Because of his new found stability, he is able to be a present father in his children’s lives and he’s motivated to continue putting to practice what he learned in JLT.

He is also becoming a leader. Jarrell’s older brother is currently a JLT student in our new class because of Jarrell’s recommendation.

All of that was just showing me how to be a man. 
I was asking guys at the plant, ‘What makes you guys get up every day to come to work?’ Every time I ask that question, they say, ‘It’s for my family, it’s for me and my family.’ They’re all married and if they’re not, they’re still taking care of their family. That’s what I put in my head everyday, ‘It’s for the family.’ It ain’t for me, it’s for the family. It’s for me, but it ain’t for me. I just try to think about other people besides myself now.”

Today, Jarrell is rising. 
He is able to tell this story because he was ready to work hard and equipped with the skills to succeed when opportunity knocked. We’re proud of all that his accomplishing and where he is headed.

Thank you to HTH Electrical for helping us create oppportunity in St. Louis, and to all of the volunteers, donors and supporters who empower men in our city.

Will you help more men like Jarrell access and seize opportunity to transform their lives, families and ultimately our city?