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Restoration Of August Wilson's Home Provides Opportunity For At-Risk Men

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The childhood home of famed playwright August Wilson, in the Hill District, is being restored.

At the same time, this project is helping to restore the lives of men who'd lost their way.

Steve Shelton is founder of the non-profit Trade Institute of Pittsburgh, which has changed the lives of nearly 100 at-risk men. Three of them are working on the August Wilson house.

"We give them a hand up, and not a handout," Shelton explains. "There's no monetary price they have to pay to get into the Trade Institute, but I tell them they're going to pay with the price of change. Sometimes change is difficult. But these guys have learned well."

Apprentice carpenter Chris Wilson says he was out of work and on the streets, before he enrolled in the the Trade Institute.

"I'm hoping, few years from now, maybe five years, to have my own company," he said. "Real estate, contracting business."

Apprentice bricklayer Scott Snyder served nearly 10 years in prison, on gun charges.

"Definitely changed my life," he said. "Instead of living on the street, trying to get money, now I can depend on a paycheck."

Apprentice bricklayer Duane Green served time on drug charges.

"I went to prison for three years," he said. "And when I got out, I needed an opportunity to make some money. I had a family, a wife and kids. And the Trade Institute gave me a way out."

Once they graduate and start working, they don't make minimum wage. In fact, the lowest wage for these guys is $12 an hour.

"I have a way to provide for my kids, for my wife," Duane Green says. "I mean, you can't ask for any much more."

August Wilson himself could not have said it better.

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