The Ottumwa Courier

January 23, 2013

Community Relations Council hears of impact Job Corps has

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Getting a good job is one mark of success to the Ottumwa Job Corps Center staff.

During their meeting Tuesday at the center, members of the Community Relations Council got to hear the story of one successful graduate. Though the story was told with pride, they didn’t hear from the young man himself.

“He couldn’t be here because he was working,” said David Humburg, the OJCC business and community liaison.

Instead, the campus career technical training manager, Danny Simonson, said the graduate of the OJCC’s truck-driving course had been hired to drive a pilot car for one of the windmill turbine companies.

He’s making $22 an hour and received the job offer the day after he graduated from the Job Corps Center.

The Community Relations Council is made up of business people, government officials and other members of the public willing to share information from the community with Job Corps and who also want to keep up with the operation of the center.

Job Corps is the nation’s largest job-training and education program for low-income students ages 16-24, and it is run by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The voluntary program helps about 100,000 students around the country every year. The residential program provides schooling so young people can complete high school, go to college or otherwise train for a career — and an independent life.

“They talked about their past, like what they were doing before Job Corps — which wasn’t really much of anything,” said Amanda Wilcox, RN.

She teaches the home health aide course on campus and selected three of her enthusiastic students to share their stories with the community group.

“The three have had a really positive experience here. They’ve had a good experience because they are so motivated,” Wilcox said.  

She acknowledged that Job Corps is one of those programs which rewards those who put the most focus into it.

“They’ve had hard life lessons at their very young age. They know what it’s like to not have a job, to not have skills. Now they have a direction,” said Wilcox.

Energetic young people, Job Corps staff say, do better when they have a goal.

“We help them realize it’s obtainable,” Wilcox said.