On February 9th, 23 formerly incarcerated and gang-impacted community members graduated from our Apprenticeship Preparation Program. The graduation ceremony was a truly inspiring event that brought out over 100 family members, friends, Flintridge supporters, city officials, and union representatives to celebrate the class’s accomplishments. Pasadena City Councilmember John Kennedy, whose partnership was essential to completing the Little Free Library Project, was our keynote speaker. He encouraged graduates to “be early, be prepared, work hard, and never give up.” We then gave special recognition to the Pasadena Police Department for their ongoing commitment to reintegrating formerly incarcerated individuals back into the community.
We also heard from APP alumnus Steve Guardian, who is working full time as a Landscapers & Irrigation Union apprentice, and current graduates Louis Ortiz and Mike Brown. Louis said the APP raised his confidence and showed him another way of life is possible. He told the crowd, “People looked at me and said ‘He’s going back to the penitentiary for sure,’ and I proved them right every time. But this time I proved them wrong.” He said he’s excited to move forward — “This is the beginning of the second part of the journey,” Louis said, “I will continue to move forward.” Mike, who has already been hired as a union carpenter on the new LA football stadium project, said Flintridge has been a “second family,” and starting his career is “more than just a dream come true, it’s life coming true.”
Flintridge President Jaylene Moseley, Councilmember Kennedy, and Chris Hannan of the LA/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council presented graduates with certificates that will give them a leg up when they apply for union jobs. We are so proud of how far these 23 men and women have come over the last 3 months and can’t wait to see where they all go from here.