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Building Futures: Construction Classes at Camillus

Paving the way to opportunity for the students: (R-L) Lola Caper of Community Awareness Construction Services, Camillus House Clinician Nelson Bermudez, FIU Professor John Weaver and and Ketsia Marcellus.

Friday, July 2, 2021 by Shari Gantman

For individuals at Camillus House, the path out of homelessness is not under construction. It is in construction thanks to the support of community partners SE Overtown Park West CRA, Community Awareness Construction Services, and Florida International University’s Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability’s Construction Trade Certification program that was recently launched at Camillus House.

Major steps are underway to address homelessness through construction training. “This program is a team effort. Our innovative, responsive partnership approach may prove to be a model program for the nation,” said Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA Executive Director Cornelius Shiver.

Camillus House Board Chairman Paul Lowenthal agrees. “Through my community involvement, I have listened to discussions regarding the need for innovative partnership approaches to helping solve homelessness. “He added, “Most homeless have no desire to remain on the streets. They do, however, need help. And that is what this program is designed to do.”

 The construction training, which is organized by Lola Caper of Community Awareness Construction Services and Ketsia Marcellus, is a great pathway for individuals to be “lifted up and out” of homelessness and become more independent.

It also provides a much-needed work force and helps developers and contractors comply with any Economic Incentive Agreements requiring hiring quotas of skilled and unskilled workers from targeted zip codes. 

 “Programs like these are crucial in helping achieve the financial stability that is essential for housing stability,” added Camillus CEO Hilda Fernandez. “Camillus is about providing these opportunities, and having wonderful partners like the SEOPW CRA help make that happen.”

When the Construction Trade Certification program’s FIU Professor John Weaver addressed the 18 course participants at Camillus House, he shared the words of B.B. King, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”

And the wonderful part about construction certification is that it builds confidence and hope, the foundations for a brighter future. 

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