Upcoming ‘Low Voltage' Training Program Aims to Help Pave the Way Out of Poverty for Many in Dallas

Combating crime and poverty in Dallas through workforce training.

Non-profit Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Community Outreach Center in South Dallas has been paving a path out of poverty for more than a year now by offering people job training at no cost.

A third round of training sessions begin next week for those interested in learning about light-electrical installation.

A sprawling apartment complex in Forney is not the only thing being built.

A budding entrepreneur working at the job site is too.

Marc Wilson hammers away inside one of the buildings under construction despite the heat and humidity.

"Being my own boss," he said with a smile.

Wilson learned how to install phone and cable lines as well as access control lines thanks to the Zan Wesley Holmes Community Outreach Center.

"I need to change," he said. "I wanted to learn something not just as a job but as a career."

Frances Smith-Dean is the executive director of Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Community Outreach Center located in the Frazier House in South Dallas.

"This program for this community is needed. It's essential," she said. "There's a plethora of opportunities out there."

The non-profit helps youth and families in the Dallas Independent School District boundaries find a way out of poverty through job training and social services, regardless of a lack of a high school diploma or a criminal background.

"If you have a felony or a misdemeanor on your record, don't let that stop you," said Smith-Dean.

These social services are key, she says, to really combating crime and poverty in Dallas.

"We can always talk about crime but if we don't put some economic solutions there's no hope," she said.

A new four-week hands-on 'low voltage' training session begins with orientation at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 17.

Participants can learn how to install phone and cable lines, home theaters, internet service, satellite dishes and more.

Two previous sessions helped 18 people, including Wilson, land a job.

"We had one person who was practically homeless and for us to place him in a job the next day after graduating, that in itself was just batting out the park as I say," said Smith-Dean. "We took a chance on them because of their greatness. We tell them: no matter what happened in the past. This is a new day, a new start and a new opportunity."

Timothy Greer owns Infrastructural Wiring Specialist. Greer partners with the non-profit to help teach students, like Wilson, a new trade.

"It's just understanding the craft and coming out here and working hard," said Greer. "The big picture, I want to see [Wilson] have two or three companies working under his name. That's what I want for him."

Donations are always appreciated, according to the center.

The four-week program meets a mandatory four days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Active participants can qualify for a weekly stipend.

A field assessment is administered to ensure participants are comfortable with heights, climbing under buildings, using hand tools and working outside.

Those who do not qualify for the training are often provided alternate opportunities, according to the center.

Orientation is Wednesday, July 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Frazier House located at 4600 Spring Avenue in Dallas.

For more information, contact Jasmine Anderson at jasmine.anderson@zwhjcoc.org.

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Community Outreach Center is also looking for additional employers in the electrical field to partner with the organization.

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