The three young adults struggled to rip up an aging, grayish-blue carpet secured with industrial-strength epoxy sometime in the past decade. In unison they tugged, with an occasional shoe slipping off as it stuck to the tacky floor.

The day before, they had ripped up the carpet in the front room of Trinity Jubilee Center’s office and replaced with laminated flooring.

Sheba Mullings, 21, originally from New York City, moved to the area to give her son a better life. Jeremy Kehrberg, 18, grew up in LeClaire, Iowa, and moved to Maine for a girlfriend. Shawn Hamm, 21, grew up in Greene. All three had some involvement with the juvenile justice system. All three are trying to make better lives for themselves.

The three formed a crew from Goodwill’s Take 2, a local community service learning program where young adults get national accreditation and on-the-job training while working toward an educational or life skills goal.

“It’s about work readiness, teaching them how to show up on time and how to be prepared. Teaching them what prospective employers want from them,” said Corey Crowell, a community service skills trainer who was helping at the job site.

Trinity Jubilee Center was the recipient of the flooring after a youth group came from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Conn., this summer. The group wanted to replace the carpet but realized they were outmatched.

“They love doing construction projects,” said Erin Reed, the development director and volunteer coordinator at the center, in a phone interview. “This was supposed to be their summer project, but they got into it and they realized it was just way beyond their ability. I mean, these are middle school students.”

Four months later, Take 2 contacted the center to see if they were in need of labor.

“If Take 2 had come to us and said we can do all this labor for free, but you have to buy the floor, I don’t know if we would have done it,” Reed said. “We were just lucky that St. Luke’s was gracious enough to donate the supplies even when they didn’t have the manpower to do the work.”

Reed said their limited budget keeps them from renovating their rented space because, “if it gets to the point where if we spend $1,000 on flooring, that’s a $1,000 we don’t have to buy food. We can’t really do that to people.”

But Take 2 was happy to help.

About one year into their current funding, the program has helped close to 40 young adults and hopes to aid another 50 by the end of their grant period in December 2014. Most are doing GED courses, while others are gaining national credentials through the National Center for Construction Education and Research. New this year is an Internet and Computing Core Certification in digital literacy. All the while, the 18- to 21-year-olds are receiving a stipend for their work.

The students can be in the program from two to six months, and will get out once they have recached their goals and hopefully gotten a job.

“The goal of the program is to teach kids, who have gotten off the path, to get their education and ultimately sustainable and livable wage jobs,” said Sandy Goss, Take 2’s program manager.

All three Take 2 workers at Trinity Jubilee Center said they want to attend college. Hamm wants to go into information technology, Kehrberg wants to be a registered nurse, and Mullings wants to be a surgeon.

They are learning life skills and learning how to fill out resumes and doing mock interviews, all the while gaining a sense of pride and accomplishment through the project.

“I feel like I’m giving back to my community after being such a rebel in high school,” Hamm said.


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