WILLIAMSON – Coalfield Development offers mentoring, educational and career opportunities that focus on ending the cycle of poverty throughout the Coalfields.
Coalfield Development’s program, The Quality Jobs Initiative, uses a 33-6-3 model to combine hands on paid construction work, class work, and life skills training to help those in the program end their dependence on government assistance and reach personal goals.
According to Coalfield Development’s website, those participating in The Quality Jobs Initiative program receive 33 hours of hands on construction work, six hours of course work, and three hours of life skills training every week. The website states that the program offers a “hand up; not a handout.” The goal of the program is to,” break generational cycles of poverty.”
Brandon Dennison, Founder of Coalfield Development said, “I love W.Va, grew up in W.Va, and see the need for opportunity for young adults.”
Coalfield Development has partnered with the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority to offer the Quality Jobs Initiative to local residents.
Leasha Johnson, Executive Director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA), further explained the impact the Quality Jobs Initiative has on the future workforce. “I encourage those in this program to take full advantage of the opportunity available through Coalfield Development. It enables them to learn to the skills necessary to be ready for a viable workforce,” Johnson said.
Adam Warren, Contract Coordinator for Coalfield Development, said the Quality Jobs Initiative has a fairly good success rate and that the program “provides an opportunity for people to stick around the area after college.”
Warren discussed the trend of people leaving the area to find work because of the poor condition of the local economy. “I would say that 99 percent of the people who leave the area don’t come back,” he explained.
Warren also discussed past, present and future projects in the Mingo area. “I worked with volunteers at the Williamson Fire Department to install thermal generated water heaters that are heated by the sun. These heaters help keep cost down for the Fire Department.”
Future projects are in the works. “We love Mingo County, and our program is off to a great start there with a crew of six and their crew chief,” Dennison said.
Currently, Coalfield Development has partnered with the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority on the construction of a timber framed house near Mingo Central. Warren explained that future projects are in the works and that his role as Contract Coordinator is a factor in project success.
Warren explained his role as Contract Coordinator as an “evolving job description” that requires him to take on different roles.
“A basic description is that I plan ahead, keep crews on schedule, and on task. I get us on schedule and on time. My job has a domino effect. I keep the ball rolling to further ensure future jobs and keep quality jobs available,” Warren said.
Johnson explained that the timber framed house being built is part of a housing development site. “We created the site in 2011 when the King Coal highway was being built, after recognizing a need for house built out of the flood plain,” Johnson said.
Johnson also discussed the benefits of a partnership with Coalfield Development. “Partnerships help position us for sustainability. Our project with Coalfield Development is really positive,” Johnson said. “We certainly cannot do it alone. That is why we do these partnerships,” Johnson continued.
Coalfield Development’s website explains their mission as “a community based organization that provides quality and affordable homes, creates quality jobs, and generates opportunities for quality life for low income families in southern West Virginia.
The mission of the Redevelopment Authority is similar, making the partnership with Coalfield Development work in a combined effort to initiate improvements in the area.
The mission of MCRA sates that their goal is to “develop, attract and retain businesses, industries and commerce within our county to create employment opportunities and increase the county’s tax base.”
More information on Coalfield Development and the Quality Jobs Initiative can be found at www.coalfield-development.org.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242,ext.2279.)