CROWN POINT | Speakers gave words of encouragement and hope Friday to eight Kimbrough Work Release Program residents who received their OSHA training certificates.
The OSHA training was provided as part of an initiative between Roger Hayward, founder of It's Gary's Time, and the Kimbrough Center.
Several of the men have already been employed through A Clean Sweep Maintenance, working on a foreclosed property in Gary.
Company owner James Wilson told the audience the Housing and Urban Development inspector described the men's work "as the best cleanup he had ever seen."
Recipient Ricardo Olson, 34, of Gary, who worked for A Clean Sweep, said he feels great about completing the program.
"I've done some things that have led me here, but I am not a bad person at heart," Olson said. "I am making up for that now and trying to become a productive member of society. I am trying to do the right thing, make it back home and never come here again."
Recipient Kevin Hobson, 20, of East Chicago, agreed.
"This is a program which helps people get back to work," Hobson said. "A lot of people are involved trying to help us and make a positive impact."
Times Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. presented the certificates to Olson and Hobson along with Floyd Escho, Thomas Haney, Jermaine Palmer, Zacaraia Diaz, Tommy Noble and Angel Piedra.
Masterson, who was raised in poverty, encouraged the men to focus and make the right choices. As a child, Masterson worked three jobs, delivering newspapers from 3:30 until 5 a.m., and then detailing cars until 7 a.m. and at a grocery store after school from 4 to 11 p.m.
"I am where I am today because of hard work," Masterson said. "I decided I was going to take that first step. The only person that is going to make you successful is yourself."
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay also encouraged the men to rise above their past mistakes.
"A saint is a sinner who fell down and got back up again," Clay said. "The fact is there are no perfect people on this earth."
Any business or contractor willing to provide work opportunities for the Kimbrough residents should contact Hayward at (219) 775-6898 or visit www.garystime.com.