In late April, we officially kicked off our partnership with YouthBuild Canton at a pep-rally style event attending by nearly 50 people, including the Mayor of Canton, followed by a volunteer service project –we had about 10 PPL employees working hard in providing sweat equity on the project.
Tom Kinisky, President of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, did a great job as our speaker. He was inspiring…and he too was clearly inspired…see below for a blog he wrote on My Saint-Gobain following the event…thanks again Tom!
Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the annual breakfast meeting of Project REBUILD in Canton, Ohio. Project REBUILD is a non-profit agency that re-engages at-risk youth to complete a high school diploma or GED and acquire marketable skills in construction technologies through the rehabilitation or construction of affordable housing. Together with Project REBUILD and YouthBuild-USA, we are supporting a project to rebuild a home in Canton, Ohio. I was asked to represent Saint-Gobain at the breakfast meeting and to speak about the project and our affiliation with YouthBuild.
At our table was a young man named Leonard, who is currently enrolled in the Project REBUILD program. He is about 5 months into a 9 month program. Everyone at the table was asking him a lot of questions about his experience in the program and what he was going to do when he finished. He told us how he was going to work at a local construction company and that he was also going to get his license to be a welder. However, his real goal was to go to college and get a degree in social work so that he can help others who are in a similar situation to him. He was very articulate and seemed at ease and comfortable talking to a group of business people about his future and time in the program.
Then he was asked how he got involved in Project REBUILD. He said he learned about it from a friend who had gone through the program and thought it was so great. We asked what the friend is doing now – thinking he had graduated and gone on to a new career. Leonard said matter-of-factly – his friend didn’t last on the outside too long, especially after he left the project REBUILD program, and is now back in prison. Then quickly added – that he would be different. I suddenly realized how fragile life was for Leonard. This well-spoken, focused, young man was trying so hard to make a different future for himself.
During my speech I mentioned Leonard and what a great spokesperson he was at our table for Project REBUILD. Later we visited the house and as I was leaving he ran up to me and thanked me for giving him a shout-out during my speech – he was proud to be mentioned. Then he told me how grateful he was for Saint-Gobain’s support and that I needed to come back to see the house finished.
It’s really inspiring to meet young people like Leonard who are working so hard for many of the opportunities most of us take for granted. I am glad we are part of this program. And, I will definitely go back to see the project.
Thanks to all the Performance Plastics people that volunteered to work on the house that day. Life’s Material Difference takes on a new meaning in that context.