CHARLOTTE, (NC) - The Relatives is an organization that helps young people from the age of 7 to 17 who are in tough situations. It helps youth and young adults move from crisis to stability and independence.
Amber Graves came to The Relatives when she was 16 years old.
“Coming from a background with no parents,” Graves said. “Being adopted - just being left alone at night and just being homeless.”
Graves was in an abusive environment and was homeless. She didn’t let her circumstances get in the way of her success. The Relatives helped connect Graves with a job to help her get on her feet to earn a living.
“The Relatives have been my biggest supporter,” Graves said. “My family - since I was 16 years old.”
The Relatives partnered with Hoar Construction to give Graves and other participants an opportunity. Graves is a hoist operator. Leaders from Hoar Construction say that is an important job.
“Her job is to move people and materials and keep the project flowing,” Hoar Construction Manager Matt Tumminia said. “She is doing a great job at that. She is always smiling and always happy. We couldn’t ask for a better team mate.”
Tumminia was invited to talk about job opportunities to students. There are opportunities that young adults at The Relatives weren’t aware of.
“We teach all types of all different skills,” The Relatives Executive Director Trish Hobson said. “But one of the things we like to bring in is employers for them to teach different skill trades.”
Matt Tumminia is with Hoar Construction. He says there is a reason he offered Graves a job.
“We always want to be apart of this community,” Tumminia said. “And make a positive impact while we are here building - continue that positive impact while we stay and live and work in the community.”
Hoar Construction currently has three projects in the Charlotte area. This partnership comes when there is a construction workforce shortage. It is estimated there are more than 430,000 jobs available in America in the construction industry.
“We had a real hard time finding some folks,” Tumminia said. “And luckily with our partnership with The Relatives - we’re able to find some people. Take one step in solving that labor crisis.”
Hoar wants to recruit people who think they don’t have what it takes to work in construction.
“The old fallacy is you got to go to trade school to do construction,” Tumminia said. “And that’s not necessarily true any longer...you just need to find that person that’s willing to take that chance on you and show up and doing the things you are asked. You can go anywhere in the industry as long as your foot is in the door.”
Hobson says this job opportunity has turned things around for Graves.
“Someone who has gone from homelessness at a very young age,” Hobson said. “To now a job that’s paying a living wage...It’s been a game changer for her - now she has health insurance which she’s never had before.”
Hoar Construction hopes to hire more young adults from The Relatives. In the meantime Graves has a plan for her future.
“I have a passion for art,” Graves said. “And I want to start my own non-profit organization to help young kids with poverty and trauma issues who can’t express themselves well.”