Brother's Keeper program teaches disadvantaged men and women carpentry, construction skills, on-the-job training

The Brother's Keeper program offers a pathway to success by giving trainees hands-on construction skills.
WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- The Coronavirus pandemic has not been kind to the workforce, forcing layoffs and creating uncertainty for those looking for a sustainable income.

A local carpenter's union program is hoping to change things, by helping L.A. residents develop skills to keep them on the job.

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The Brother's Keeper program offers a pathway to success via a free three-week carpentry, pre-apprenticeship program serving disadvantaged men and women in Los Angeles County.

"That had a background like mine where you may have not had any construction experience, some of them come from single parent homes, some come from a history in the streets and may not have had a lot of job experience," said Instructor Wesley Crunk.

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Crunk teaches students union carpentry and construction skills. He also teaches them how to behave on the job site.

"I've learned a lot here from Wesley Crunk. He's taught us to, you know, be punctual, hustle, have a great attitude at all times no matter what and I learned that from him," said Pay Mi Kash Pitts, a Brother's Keeper apprentice.

The program aims to help those people who need another chance at success.

"There's a lot of people out there that deserve a second chance and want to find high paying careers and just don't know how to make that connection, and that's what we're here doing," said Matthew Bennett Dunphy, coordinator for the Southwest Carpenters Training Fund.

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"I come from a rough background of struggle, financially having a good job. I got told to come here and came here and you know this is where they helped me out, this is my path to something greater for myself," said Clarence Brown, a Brother's Keeper apprentice.

Thousands of jobs have gone away since the coronavirus pandemic, and many businesses are reluctant to hire the formerly incarcerated. But Brother's Keeper gives students a chance to thrive in an essential, active business.

"Right now the job market is booming. We haven't slowed down a bit. Contractors are still looking for guys. There's still plenty of opportunity for guys and gals to go to work," said Corey Crockerham of Brother's Keeper.

The carpentry union offers benefits and a pension to its members, setting up apprentices for life.

"For those who feel like they don't have a second choice in life, come to Brother's Keeper, talk to a man named Wesley Crunk. He will put you on the right path. It's worth it. It's going to be a life changer and it's going to be some sacrifices, but in the long run it's going to be worth it looking back at your life at 65 and just realizing you've had a hell of run," said Alton Brown, a Brother's Keeper apprentice.
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