Daniel Johnson Is Using His Westside Works Training to Help Build the Organization’s New Home

When Daniel Johnson graduated with Westside Works’ Construction Group 1 in July 2014, little did he know he would face two job layoffs in two years. Or that he would end up on a job site that’s the future home of – wait for it – Westside Works.

But life is funny that way, and that’s where Johnson is today, as a laborer for Hogan Construction Group.

Westside Works initially began operations in the former E.R. Carter School building on Joseph Lowery Blvd. It’s now in a temporary home – a set of nearby modular buildings – while the Hogan crew builds a permanent facility, also on Lowery Blvd.

Daniel’s home is a 15-minute walk from the site, and he’s happy to be working on a project that will benefit the organization that’s been such a help to him.

“It’s really ironic,” he says. “When I got laid off the second time, I called Jamie [Buck, Director of Training & Placement] at Westside Works again, and it was good timing, because this spot was available.”

Daniel previously worked for Technique Concrete and RB Communications, both on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium site. When he lost those jobs, his association with Westside Works helped him get back to work. The training he received, the industry-recognized certifications he earned and the support network he cultivated all combined to give him an advantage in the job market.

“Westside Works has really been there for me,” Daniel says. “I sat home for a few weeks the first time, but once I called Jamie and let her know my situation, she looked out for me. They’ve been a very big help.”

“Daniel has shown that he is a hard worker and does what it takes to get a job done,” says Buck. “He has had some personal setbacks, but has been able to overcome and get back on his feet.  I see a future in construction for Daniel. He just needed the opportunity and help guiding him along the path toward those goals.”

Daniel actually worked in construction prior to entering Westside Works, including more than six years in a labor pool. When opportunities began to dry up two years ago, he visited Integrity Community Development Corporation, a Westside Works partner that helps residents of the English Avenue community find work.

There he learned about Westside Works and immediately saw the potential of the then-new construction curriculum that was being offered.

“It was different in that I was actually receiving formal training,” Daniel says. “Even though I knew the basics, now I was learning why we do things a certain way. That’s why I believe it’s been so easy for me to get hired again.”

Buck says Westside Works graduates such as Johnson often come back for help. “It’s their place of hope and encouragement,” she says.

Johnson certainly has found that to be true. And when the new Westside Works campus opens, it will be a place that bears his handiwork as well.

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