Construction Ready PLUS Training Gave Lamel Diggs Practical Know-How for His Everyday Work in ‘the Real World’

When someone enrolls in CEFGA’s Construction Ready PLUS program, it’s a good bet he or she is pretty motivated to take their career to a higher level. They’ve already graduated from Construction Ready, they’ve been employed full-time for at least 90 days, and they’re committing to four months of Saturday classes on top of their already busy work schedules.

For Lamel Diggs, the desire to learn and grow went even further. Early in his Construction Ready PLUS studies, Lamel was struggling with some mathematical concepts. That’s when instructor Kelly Almond stepped in to offer a bit of extracurricular help.

Almond recalls: “I said, ‘Well, the doors don’t open til 8, but if you want to get here early, we can sit on the back of my truck and go over the questions you have.’ So I started calling it ‘Tailgate Tutoring.’”

Lamel says those informal teaching sessions – combined with the rest of his Construction Ready PLUS training, sponsored by the Home Depot Foundation – have made him a more capable worker in his job with Stewart Brothers, an Atlanta-based paving company.

“I was asking Mr. Almond some questions and he said, ‘Listen, you just gotta open your mind, relax, breathe a little bit. I’m gonna take you through this.’ He connected the dots to the real world for us. It’s like completing a puzzle. It’s like, whoa, now I can see myself really doing this kind of work.

“Construction Ready PLUS is amazing,” Lamel adds. “I never would have thought I’d learn the things I learned there. Blueprint reading skills, site layout skills, crew leadership, OSHA 30 – it’s really opening a lot of doors. This is the ultimate program for anybody who is willing to work and willing to learn.”

Math wasn’t the first obstacle Lamel had to overcome. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, he moved to Atlanta in his late teens and found trouble with the law. By age 20 he was in prison, where remained for 13 years.

He says around 2014 he began a spiritual journey. Praying for direction, he got the idea to pursue construction as a profession when he was released. That happened in May 2018, and he soon learned about Construction Ready. He remembers the interview and intake process as “intense.”

“It really made me realize, if you want [success], you can get it,” he says.

Lamel went through Construction Ready training at CEFGA’s Westside Works location. After establishing a stable career, he moved to Sandy Springs and recently celebrated the birth of his first child. And he’s still learning, working through an online construction program from Ashworth University in Norcross.

Lamel also gained a new-found appreciation for freedom the day he walked out of prison.

“It was like everything was brand new to me – the smells, the tastes of foods, everything was totally different,” he says. “I savored my days. Even now, I still take things in slow motion so I can cherish the moment. Everything has been on the up and up. I count everything as a blessing.”

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VIDEO: Lamel talks about how Construction Ready and Construction Ready PLUS helped turn his life around. Learn more about Construction Ready at constructionready.us, and follow us on our YouTube channel to hear from more successful Construction Ready graduates.

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