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YouthBuild helps young adults earn GED while learning job skills

May. 09, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- When Kelly Dean found himself starting Wayne High School as an 18-year-old freshman, he knew he had to find a different path to success.

"I was almost too old to be in high school at all, and there was no way I was going to be able to finish," said Dean, now 19.

Instead of enrolling in another year of public school, Dean became involved with YouthBuild Huntington. The program helps people between the ages of 16 and 24 work toward a GED or high school diploma while learning job skills by building affordable housing for the homeless or low-income people.

Wednesday night, Dean and two other people received their GEDs during a ceremony at the Cabell County Public Library. He also was one of 10 people to complete the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Program.

YouthBuild Huntington receives funding through the Huntington Housing Authority, but cuts in federal funding earlier this year put the program's future in jeopardy. Creative work from the YouthBuild team and community support kept the program afloat, said Terrance Hubbard, program coordinator of YouthBuild Huntington.

While public funding might be what helps keep the program going, Hubbard said its participants are able to give much more back to their community.

"This program is not one that just takes federal dollars at the front door," said Hubbard. "It's one that takes that money and recycles it back into the community by completing projects in the community and giving people skills that will make them contributing members of society."

Dean shared that sentiment. While it may have taken him longer than some of his classmates to realize the importance of an education, he said he was happy to have a second chance at getting one.

"I think everyone comes to a point where they realize that it's time to grow up," Dean said. "If you're someone like me and these people, and it's too late when you realize that, what would you do if there wasn't something like YouthBuild? At some point, you realize you have to do something for yourself and you have to work on your future."

For more information about YouthBuild, visit www.huntingtonhousingauthority.com and click on the "YouthBuild" tab.

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