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Lighting Lives

After a grueling 88 hours of intensive learning and hands-on skill development, eleven local residents graduated from the first class of Electrical Contractor trainings, which was coordinated as a satellite of Bladen Community College. Completing the course has made the students eligible for employment in the field, and offers have already been made.

After fulfilling the required number of hours using their skills in the workplace, students will be able to take the second level course, and then sit for the licensing exam.

As part of their training, Instructor Elvis Matthews had them install new exterior lighting at the George Henry White Center, where the classes were conducted. This is a way of "giving back" to the project.

"We are proud of these graduates," said GHW Center Project leader Vince Spaulding, who welcomed the graduates and their families to the celebratory luncheon honoring their completion of the course hosted by the GHW Center. "We owe great thanks to Mr. David Brisson, Coordinator of Accelerated Training at the Bladen County Community College for his support and leadership in establishing this Electrical Wiring course at the GHW Center. His active effort and that of other Bladen Community staff enabled us to bring a much-needed boost to the people of our area. I also want to thank the students who signed up and were willing to come here on a regular basis, study hard, practice, and fulfill all the requirements of the very complex material. Indeed, the fact is, "No Students No Course."

Ocie Jones, GHW Center superintendent, who conceived and advocated the electrical training course in communication with the Bladen Community team, explained, "This class shows how the George Henry White Memorial Center connects local residents to life-changing opportunities in their careers. Licensed electrical contractors make $70,000 per year, and the demand is only increasing for skilled and certified construction professionals."

Among the 10 students who began the course, the following completed all requirements successfully, and were able to celebrate with family and friends:

Donald Keith Thigpen, Pink Hill, NC; James Miller, Council, NC; Andrew Soles, Whiteville, NC; Jaylen Locklear, Lake Waccamaw, NC: Jonathan C. Rouse; Derrick Barnes, Clarkton, NC; Houston Smith, Joseph Spaulding.

Elvis Matthews, the course's instructor, had completely rewired and upgraded the electrical infrastructure of the GHW center during the renovation of the 100-year-old building. His work equipped it as an educational center for workforce development and life enhancement. Classes include not only electrical contracting, but also computer operation, computer networking, health, nutrition, fitness, land management, environmental concerns and more.

"We wish to applaud Bladen Community College for its tremendous commitment to providing education at the grassroots," remarked Ocie Jones. "They have brought life-changing skill development courses directly to the rural, hardworking people of our area, in conjunction with the GHW Center and licensed professionals. We hope to continue and build upon this successful initiative."

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