Elkins Mayor helps celebrate Youth Build

Elkins Mayor Van Broughton joined YouthBuild North Central Interim program director Raymond Godwin and YouthBuild participants Tuesday to celebrate the town’s first ever Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service.

The group gathered at Glendale Park for tours of the new building at the park and to recognize the tremendous volunteer work performed by local YouthBuild students.

“We wanted to let everyone know of the work completed by our volunteers, students and staff,” Godwin said. “Mayor Van Broughton is a big supporter of our program and youth in the community.”

“I am proud of our five great city parks,” Broughton said. “YouthBuild put lots of effort and work into these parks, adding restrooms, ramps and many other much-needed things. I am excited to see what YouthBuild has done to make our area better. This building is the icing on the cake.”

Broughton said he is big on youth.

“I was a kid once,” Broughton said. “This shows what they can do and I am proud of them.”

Godwin said YouthBuild is one of the most exciting opportunities for youth in the area.

“This is exciting to offer youth the opportunity to move forward,” Godwin said. “We help the students get their GED and learn skills. Then we help them connect with jobs. They receive assistance with interviewing skills and their resumes and then we help connect them with many job opportunities.”

YouthBuild participant Russell Jenkins talked about the impact YouthBuild had in his life.

“I have seen a lot of things and done a lot of things to fit in with friends,” Jenkins said. “I did not want to stand out and be a different kid. But I am a different kid; a different breed. I could be in Clarksburg, but it would not benefit me in life. In YouthBuild, I am bettering myself and learning new skills. I have matured and I am glad I came to YouthBuild. This program gave me job skills, offered me opportunities for job shadowing and taught me to save money. It made me realize my live is important, and I didn’t drop out.”

Randy Cunningham, an instructor with YouthBuild North Central, teaches construction, bricklaying, electrical and plumbing.

“Kids need help learning in their life,” Cunningham said. “Construction is a great skill and these kids need guidance and training in their lives. People are always looking for workers and these skills help the students make a living. Life lessons are learned in all parts of construction, and it makes the students’ lives better to move forward.”

YouthBuild participant Caleb Gartmann said YouthBuild has made a huge impact on his life.

“I learned great practical skills, got my GED and several certifications,” Gartmann said. “Basically, this turned my life around. They have a great staff.”

Gartmann traveled to Washington, D.C. for a Young Leaders Conference where he shared his story with more than 200 people.

“I met lots of participants from other states, and we are now friends. It’s like a big YouthBuild family. We talked to Sen. Joe Manchin and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito to ask for their continued support of the program. Both are great supporters and assured us they understood the importance of the program.”

Gartmann’s mother, Misty Gartmann, said she is extremely proud of her son.

“He has so many accomplishments from his work with YouthBuild, and he has matured,” Misty Gartmann said. “This program has led him back in the right direction.”

YouthBuild North Central is a subsidiary of the Randolph County Housing Authority and serves Randolph, Tucker and Barbour counties. The mission of YouthBuild is to assist out-of-school young adults in obtaining GEDs, vocational training or both. Its purpose is to knock down barriers to education and jobs. The program is two-tiered with half the students’ time spent in the classroom and the other on the job site.

YouthBuild was established in 1995 and more than 300 students have enrolled in the program over the years. More than 200 of those students completed the program.

Seventy-five percent were placed in employment, 50 percent earned their GED and 85 percent received pre-apprenticeship certificate training. These certifications are valuable, but equally valuable are work habits, work readiness skills and the ability to get along with a diverse group of people. This program succeeds because it creates a family among the youth who learn to look out for one another and for themselves.

Currently YouthBuild North Central is looking for students age 16 to 24 who are searching for marketable job skills. YouthBuild provides young people the opportunity to work on their GED while earning a paycheck.

Tutoring is available to help students prepare for the GED exam and overcome any learning obstacles. Students learn job skills by building affordable housing in the community and other vocational activities. Upon completion of the program, YouthBuild helps place students in jobs, apply to colleges or both.

Other employees of the local YouthBuild North Central office include Loren Fortney, GED education coordinator; Michelle Phares, counselor and social worker; and Leslie Ruggiero, program assistant.

More information is available by calling 304-637-9008 or emailing