“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have.”
— Thomas Jefferson
Our first apprenticeship class, that spent over five weeks facilitating a huge salvage effort of tubs, sinks, ceramic tile, doors, and molding, is proving that diligence and hard work pay off when pursuing job placements in the City of Buffalo. Since our last report a couple weeks back, seven of our nine apprentices have secured jobs locally. Many will be continuing work at the Hotel Lafayette starting this coming Tuesday, as they move on to the demolition phase of the project that’s transforming one of Buffalo’s historic landmarks back to greatness.
Clifford Owens, one of the apprentices from our first class, accepted a position with ReUse Action as our Apprenticeship Supervisor. He’s been spending a lot of time with the second class, teaching skills, sharing his experiences, and mentoring them on how to be better co-workers and employees. His wisdom, life experience, and keen attention to detail is a tremendous example for our apprentices. Amanda Alessandra, Head of Green Demolition and Material Reclamation at ReUse Action, says, “Clifford has emerged as a tremendous leader on our work sites, he sets a great tone for the others, and always delivers a smile.”
Clifford is ecstatic about the opportunity. He said, “What’s great is that I can be both a teacher for others and learn more skills in the construction trades.” Clifford has a special connection to the Hotel Lafayette, where he’s been working for the past ten weeks. He remembers fondly visits to the Hotel Lafayette to see his grandmother who worked in housekeeping. “After my Ma passed, my sister and Grandma were a big influence in my life. My Grandma gave me a lot of pride in myself and always believed in me and assured me that I could do anything.”
Now Clifford is applying those lessons to his work with the new apprentices. He tells the story of the U-Turn that he made in his own life over a year ago. “I just got tired. Tired of seeing friends getting killed, going to jail.” It was a turning point when his friend Don was killed, now he explains, “I do what I do for Don. If I can be the best street thug, I can be the best worker too.” It’s this commitment and determination that you notice if you spend any time with Clifford on the work site. He gives 110% to the work, but he also has a presence that is approachable. He doesn’t hesitate to share his experience and to urge others around him to make the right decisions that will keep them out of trouble. In Clifford’s words, “I have a story to tell. I want to be connected. People need to feel connected. They need to be involved.”
Clifford’s involvement is creating new connections for our staff and our apprentices. We’re happy to have him on our team, as part of our family.