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  • Writer's pictureNeighborLink Indianapolis

BYPlus Trainees Helping Homeowners

By Wes Trapp & Eric McMillion

At NeighborLink, our mission is clear, help individuals with disabilities and senior homeowners in-need age-in-place safely and with dignity. When we get a chance to partner with an organization that shares the same passion in helping among some of the most vulnerable in our communities, we take it.

In 2021 NeighborLink partnered with Indiana Construction Roundtable (ICR) for their BY Plus Training Program. ICR provides a successful BY program to train applicants for a career in construction. In 2021 ICR partnered with NeighborLink Indianapolis, and other community partners to provide the same training course but with additional wrap around services to support their ability to learn.

BY Plus gives an education and work experience opportunity to those who are aspiring to pursue a career in the construction industry. Over an 8-week period trainees of all backgrounds, races and ethnicities are given the opportunity for a hands-on training experience that will provide them with all the assets they need to have a career in construction. Of those 8-weeks, the trainees will be in the classroom two days a week working towards getting their OSHA-10 certification, construction cv, math, power tools, communication skills, and employability skills.

All of the textbook skills are of the utmost importance, but as we all know, you can read a book on cutting a board, but until you actually do it, those skills are limited. This is where NeighborLink comes in. One day a week NeighborLink takes the BY Plus trainees to an actual job site where those learned skills are put to the test. Led by NeighborLink Project Coordinators, Eric McMillion and Wes Trapp, our primary goal is to take those skills learned, and use them for the betterment of our community by helping the ever growing need of home repairs for our seniors and those with disabilities.

We successfully completed two cohorts during 2021. Our first two cohorts brought a variety of challenges, but with every challenge there were multiple victories. We were able to meet the trainees at their level of competency and comfortability, ensuring that we covered all of the basics from, how to safely use a miter saw, to different types of screws. We extensively covered everything we felt the trainees needed to get started on a project. Learning along the way, we worked on real projects. A few of them were: Yard grading, concrete repair, wood fence construction, siding repair, and painting. During our second cohort we accomplished:

  • learning how to demo a wood deck

  • grading around the existing deck

  • use of a post hole digger to set our posts for the new deck

  • fence rebuild

  • install a new section of gutters

  • repair vinyl siding that was damaged in a small fire

We helped three different home owners and completed 16 projects. Of those 16 projects, 12 were citations. The burden of home citations for our neighbors can be daunting and sometimes downright scary. Thankfully we were able to help and get them in a good position to clear those citations

A key to our success was not only quantitated in the amount of projects completed, but in the friendships and partnerships that made it all possible. Of course we had the typical first day jitters of a new program starting, but that quickly faded as we grew close to our trainees and the BY Plus staff. We listened to each other, we trusted each other, and most importantly we learned from one another. A great portion of our success came from the trainees being prepared in the classroom. As Abe Lincoln once said,

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Good execution rides on the heels of great planning, and BY Plus prepared their trainees well so that we could transition them to the job site with ease.

As the partnership of NeighborLink and BY Plus grows, we hope to see more trainees complete their certification and of equal importance, we hope to also tackle the need of home repairs in Indianapolis.

Know someone who would be interested in the BY Plus program? Learn more here

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