There are many different routes people take to reach Westside Works. The easiest is to skip the trip to the stadium trailers, the questions at the gate, and make your way directly to the Westside Works facility.
“I know a couple of people that went through the program,” Dante Strozier, a Westside Works graduate and plumber’s apprentice at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium construction site said, “Actually seeing them come from where they were (in life) to seeing them go to work everyday, and having a career instead of just a job. That showed me.”
Throughout the 4-week construction training program, the students in each class form a comradery from the moment they are introduced. Writing down everyone’s number, holding each other accountable to show up for class on time, and creating a support system that pushes them to graduate. Although they may be placed at different locations, Strozier says they still check in from time to time and when given the opportunity, he stops to talk to his fellow classmates also working at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium site.
Before his apprenticeship he was working at the airport in a minimum wage job barely making ends meet. Now, he is learning a skill in a career that is much more fulfilling at a higher pay and one that he can see himself doing for years to come.
“I follow the plumber around and get whatever he needs and they teach me a lot,” Strozier said, “It’s hands on instead of in a book, which I like – I never knew any of this before.”
At home, Strozier has a wife and four kids to care for and they are proud of both the project he works on and the career he is developing. According to him, it’s his daughter telling him to have a good day and asking about what he is doing at work that makes him smile and want to go to work in the morning.
“Sometimes I think I’m a role model,” Strozier said, “Most of the time people (I know) are genuine. They come up and ask me ‘How did you get your job? Where did you go?’ and I tell them ‘You got to go to Westside Works.’”