Construction Ready Gave Darius King a Chance to Change His Life. He Took It and Hasn’t Looked Back.
Darius King describes his introduction to Construction Ready as divine intervention. Specifically it was a fortuitous encounter with a woman handing out fliers advertising the program. He doesn’t even know her name, but it set in motion a transformation from life on the street to a career as an assistant construction superintendent.
“I was on Bankhead [Highway],” Darious recalls, “just standing at a corner store, talking to some guys, and she walked up on me and said, ‘I think you need this.’ In my mind, it was divine intervention. I laid it in my car and a couple of days later I was like, ‘Let me go call these people.’”
A few months passed, but Darius eventually was admitted into Construction Ready at Westside Works. He graduated in December 2017 and began work immediately as a laborer with Hogan Construction.
“I wasn’t working, I was doing the wrong things,” he says. “I had to get myself together. I had been in and out of prison and I was missing time with my kids, and sooner or later I was going to end up with a long stint in prison. It was like, ‘This is your ticket out of here.’ So I took it and ran with it. If it wasn’t for Westside Works, I don’t know where I would be right now.”
Indeed Darius ran with the opportunity, and he’s never looked back. Working mostly on school renovation projects, he proved to be a quick learner and a dependable worker who always got the job done. Within a year he had been promoted to an assistant superintendent role, and he aims to keep moving up the career ladder.
“I feel like you have to show them that, ‘I’m willing to be here, I want to do this,’” Darius says. “I think they saw that I was deep into learning my craft and I was willing to get out and do stuff on my own. They didn’t have to have anybody standing over me all the time. Every day is a learning experience for me. I can take in a lot of information, so once they show me, I understand it and I can move forward.”
Life is good for Darius at home now as well. He lives in a well-appointed apartment community, has healthy relationships with his fiancé and children, and perhaps most importantly, he has peace.
“That’s all I wanted out of life, just to find some calm,” he says. “Out in the streets, it’s not calm. Every day you’re looking over your shoulder, you’re worried about somebody killing you. Now I just go to work and come home, and I’m calm when I come home.”
Darius studied welding at Atlanta Tech, but never was able to find work in that field because of his background. With Construction Ready, CEFGA gives students such as Darius a second chance, and partners with companies willing to do likewise. There are no handouts – it’s truly a boot camp mentality with students expected to meet high standards of professionalism – and as Darius points out, those who put in the effort leave the program positioned for success.
“Construction Ready gave me some focus in life,” he says. “I’ve been through other programs and none of them really worked. At Westside Works, they told us there was no guarantee [of a job], but they also told us, if you put your best foot forward, someone would [probably] give you a chance. That’s the difference between Westside Works and the other programs – they are putting people into position to [be hired]. After that it’s really up to you to stay with the company.”
VIDEO: Darius discusses what sets Construction Ready apart from other programs he experienced, and how it has changed his life and career. Follow us on our YouTube channel to hear from more successful Construction Ready graduates.