Khalil Davis Is Making the Most of a Second Chance in Life and a New Career in Construction

Among the many virtues of Westside Works is its willingness to take in students with a past. Over the past two years, dozens have come through its doors in need of a second chance. For those willing to show up on time, learn and work hard, success typically has followed.

Khalil Davis is one of those who capitalized on the opportunity Westside Works gave him. He’s not ashamed to say he spent more than three years in prison, and he has an air of determination that suggests he won’t make the same mistakes this time around.

When I got out [in May 2015], I tried to look for a job, but people shut me down,” Khalil recalls. “But that wasn’t going to stop me. Even if I had not found Westside Works, I still would have found something. I was not going to give up.”

Fortunately for him, Westside Works was there to speed along his comeback story. After moving in with an uncle on Atlanta’s Westside, he learned about Westside Works’ construction training program. He was accepted into Construction Group 11, graduated in August 2015 and was hired with Lichty Commercial Construction.

He started out at the bottom, literally – “sweeping floors, digging holes, shoveling rocks,” he says with a laugh. Job sites included a metro-area fire station and a liquor store before he arrived at his current assignment, renovating an east-Atlanta commercial property into a restaurant space.

At that site, Khalil has taken on a supervisory role, and he’s devoting his full attention to it.

“I haven’t even been with the company a year yet, but I’ve learned so much,” he says. “I’ve been giving it my all, 100 percent. The same way I was giving it doing the wrong things, now I’m giving it doing the right things. [Progress is] a little bit slower this way, but it’s worth it.

“It feels really good,” he continues. “At the same time, I’m kind of nervous about [the added responsibility], because I don’t want to mess up. I’m constantly studying the blueprints to make sure I get it right. I know this is a test for me.”

For someone whose only previous construction experience was some limited work operating heavy machinery and installing drain pipes, Khalil’s rapid advance in the business is impressive.

“Khalil is a great worker who is reliable and eager to learn,” says Lichty Field Supervisor Joey Meadows, Khalil’s boss. “He has a great work ethic and does not mind a challenge.”

Khalil is quick to credit Meadows and his other supervisors at Lichty for their willingness to invest in him. Similarly, he ticks off a list of Westside Works staffers and instructors, as well as his case worker and others who have helped him along the way.

“All of these people mean so much to me,” he says. “I’m always looking for new things to learn, and I have a great teacher in Joey and the other guys I work with. Whenever I have questions, they’re always willing to help me take the next steps.”

Ever-mindful of that second chance he’s making the most of, Khalil often visits Westside Works and shares his experiences with current students there.

“Westside Works changed my life,” he says. “So anything I’ve learned, I try to go back and pass that along. There’s opportunity out there, and Westside Works is the best way to take advantage of that. You just have to take it one step at a time, and you have to want to change.”

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