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Herbert Hoelter Vocational Training Center Celebrates Helping 1,000 People Find Jobs Even Despite Pandemic

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A Baltimore-based vocational training center that provides opportunities for those with intellectual and emotional disabilities has hit a milestone despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Herbert J. Hoelter Vocational Training Center has now served more than 1,000 individuals in the past two years. Despite the pandemic, staff members were able to successfully navigate the challenges and still place participants in jobs.

The center's programs changed participant Trá Monroe's life.

"You get to see an opportunity that can get you through a door that you might not see yourself into," he said.

That's what Monroe is striving for thanks to the center.

"It's changed my life because it's keeping me from stuff I wouldn't potentially be doing without being here," he said.

Center director Gary Antonino said the programs serve homeless veterans, men and women coming home from conflict and those returning from incarceration.

The goal is to provide them with an alternative education and workforce training.

"If you really want to change someone's life and help them, the idea would be to get them a job, a living wage job which will help them support themselves, their families, and just provide upward mobility for the community," Antonino said.

The center has a 75 percent job placement rate. Those who moved through its doors have an average wage of $18.15 per hour.

Leaders said it's important to not only learn how to get the job but also how to keep it, so they teach different skills like conflict resolution and managing finances.

Participants like Monroe, meanwhile, said they just hope to inspire others with their own accomplishments.

"From here, I see myself opening the door for any young person my age, because if I can do it, I can motivate anybody else younger than me to do it too," Monroe said.

To learn more about the program, click here.

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