Alba Thurman Had Hit Rock Bottom. Build Cobb Gave Her the Opportunity and Confidence to Soar Again.

By Allen Allnoch

Alba Thurman says she almost bailed out on Construction Ready at Build Cobb before she even started. Given the trials she’s endured, it would be understandable. But she went through with it, and now she’s thriving in a new career.

Alba graduated from Build Cobb in summer 2016 and has been working for Holder Construction on a northside-perimeter commercial development ever since.

She learned about Build Cobb under less-than-ideal circumstances – while living in a Cobb County home for victims of domestic abuse. She had essentially lost everything, including custody of her young son, when a court ruled against her in January 2016.

“I was thinking I could be a Spanish translator,” she recalls, “and I was told, ‘Go to Build Cobb, because they have a lot of different programs.’ Then I saw they had a construction program. That’s something I had always wanted to do.”

Construction Ready at Build Cobb is a partnership of The Collective at Cumberland Community Church, CEFGA, WorkSource Cobb and HB NEXT. Alba enrolled, but the day before classes started, she got a discouraging email from her ex-husband, which caused her to have second thoughts.

“But a friend called and said, ‘Don’t miss this opportunity,’” she says. “So I went, and Miss Stacy [Brungardt, The Collective’s Program Director and Community Development Coordinator] said she would advocate for me. Before Construction Ready, I didn’t have any hope and I felt that no one was going to help somebody like me. What she said was like the green light I needed.”

Alba, a native of the Dominican Republic, grew up in Brooklyn and originally came to Atlanta in 2008 with her first son, a teenager at the time. She worked as a personal trainer, studied massage therapy, got married and had another child. By 2014, the relationship had soured and she moved back to New York. “I didn’t even know I was in an abusive situation until I left,” she says.

She returned to Atlanta to fight for custody of her younger son. When she lost, she had nowhere to go but the shelter. “I was at the bottom of the barrel,” she says. “I felt so isolated. I couldn’t think highly of myself.”

Today Alba again has visitation with her young son every other weekend, and her older son is back in Atlanta. In fact, he she gets to see him at work every day – he’s employed by an electrical contractor on the same job site.

Holder initially hired her for a housekeeping position, but Senior Superintendent Dennis Ritchie saw her potential and began to look for opportunities to get her more involved. She’s since worked in the engineering department, and as a buck hoist operator.

She was well-spoken and had such a positive presence when she interviewed,” Ritchie says. “I’ve been trying to find a fit for her with an eye toward the longer term – something that would be more challenging. It’s at least helping her formulate an idea of what she wants to do.”

Whatever ends up being her specialty, Alba Thurman surely will succeed. She’s already proven her ability to triumph over long odds.

“When I do something, I give it 200 percent,” she says. “This job beats working in an office. I like to tell people I love playing in the mud.”

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