Weld to Work 2.0 Graduation


Thursday, November 30th, 2017- seven fierce, ambitious and phenomenal individuals graduated from the Weld to Work 2.0 program. For many of these graduates, the path to the finish line began several months ago when they submitted an application to the incredibly competitive Weld to Work 1.0, the 30-hour introductory training.

“All I can say is the moment I walked in, you know this was a unique event- you can just feel it. It’s a tribute to everything the program has accomplished and you can continue to count me in for future employment opportunities,” said Craig Pickell, President, Bullard Abrasives and proud Weld to Work supporter. 

All seven of the outstanding graduates are now trained to safely use a MIG, TIG, and Stick Welder, as well as, oxyacetylene torches for bending and cutting, plasma cutters, angle grinders, chop saws, horizontal band saws, drill presses, tape measures and a variety of hand tools- all within the 150-hour training. We’re totally impressed.  Weld to Work is not just about welding to practice welding or grinding and cutting just to learn the skill. Each of these individuals built professional and artistic commissioned projects to be installed in local communities and neighborhoods. 

Our 2.0 graduates, built a fence designed by a group of high school students to be installed in the southside of the Providence. The team met with the students and later interpreted their abstract drawings into metal art forms. The graduates then went on to work on a partnership between Lifespan & Rhode Island Hospital where they restored, designed and fabricated a fence that memorializes a piece of history and revitalizes a new space around RI Hospital.

Additionally, each graduate completed a 10-hour training at the Genesis Center, working tirelessly to enhance their soft skills such as resume writing, interviewing and financial planning. Then went on to receive their OSHA-10 construction safety certificates.

The entire Steel Yard community is incredibly proud of everything this crew has accomplished. The Welding Studio was literally filled with family, friends, staff, program partners and businesses looking to hire talented workers. Positive, enthusiastic, hopeful and sincere energy filled the room as nearly 40 individuals introduced themselves and were met with applause. There was a lot of love in that room. Margo Karoff-Hunger, the Workforce Coordinator, delivered a moving an inspiring speech acknowledging and highlighting each individual participants strengths and growth within the program. Karoff-Hunger said, “Some of you already know what your next steps will be, whether that is further educational programs or full-time positions at a company, so I want to take a minute to congratulate you, that is amazing. And for those of you who don’t have your next steps quite figured out yet, please know that I am not worried. It is only a matter of time until a lucky program or business will scoop you up, and I will work with you until you do.”

Some of the graduates have already been hired through the Steel Yard as Teaching Assistants for various courses. Two graduates have already been selected for the SAMI machining program. Another accepted a full-time welding position at Amtrol. And yet another Weld to Worker was offered a job by an employer immediately after graduating.

This session of Weld to Work 2.0 was instructed by Luke Montes, assisted by Anita Jackson.  Luke Montes, a former Weld to Worker himself, returned later as a teaching assistant and then later to instruct the program. Luke has taught every Weld to Work class of the 2017 seasons, a season that included a record-breaking 6 sessions, totaling 9 weeks and graduating over 28 individuals. When asked to reflect on the busy year Luke, said, ” …the reason I teach is that it’s important to me to see people who have felt disenfranchised develop a skill and take is as far as they wanna go.” 

Anita Jackson, served as Teaching Assistant for two W2W 1.0 programs and one W2W 2.0 programs this season after completing the program herself earlier this year. Welding comes naturally for Anita. She is a quick and proficient learner and valued team member.  Most days, before Anita come into the Steel Yard to teach she was volunteering a another non-profit earlier that morning. She is a rock star. 

The 2017 of Weld to Work was made possible by Polaris, Nordson, Taco/White Family Foundation, Textron and the June Rockwell Levy Foundation

Special thanks to all of our program partners including: Genesis Center, Crossroads, Lifespan and RI Hospital. Thank you to the RI Department of Labor and Training, WeMake RI and Bullard Abrasives. Without these partnerships, Weld to Work would not have grown so much and been so successful this year. “This is a great program, and it’s amazing that after the fact, the students have something to look forward to, the future is brighter,” said Leslie from Crossroads.

Finally, thank you Margo Karoff-Hunger, the Steel Yard’s Workforce Coordinator, who has shaped this program with her passion, commitment, and vision. 

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