The Gulfport Job Corps Center has been celebrating its 50th anniversary all week. For six years, Loring Smith worked at the Gulfport Job Corps Center as an instructor, teaching young people skills to get on their feet. Smith retired back in 1995 and came back for Wednesday's open house. Smith says, “We came back to see what the place looked like after all these years.”
The Gulfport center is celebrating its 50th anniversary and showcasing a new dormitory. Alexander Alston, the Director of the Gulfport Job Corps Center, says, “For us here, it just means that the Job Corps program is growing, it's vibrant, still alive, and in this new dormitory we're in, it shows we'll still be around for a long time.”
The free program helps young people, ages 16 to 24, earn high school diplomas, G.E.D.s, learn trades, and find jobs. Senator Thad Cochran says of the program, “This is really a great opportunity for people in this area to come to classes, to come explore job opportunities in the area, and take steps necessary to be self-sufficient and capable of contributing to the community.”
The Gulfport Job Corps Center tells News 25 that facilities like the new dormitory are crucial to getting people back into the workforce, especially in this post-Katrina era. Pamela Terry, the Academic Manager for the Gulfport Job Corps Center, says, “We find that as students are educated, there are more opportunities for them to continue and further their education, receive jobs in markets that are prevalent here in the State of Mississippi, and of course right here on the Gulf Coast in Gulfport.”
Smith says Job Corps goes further than teaching a trade, but also fosters a bond with students as they help the youth grow into responsible adulthood. Smith closes, “I really enjoyed that six years I had here and if there's any of our old students are out there and see me on TV or whatever, they might give me a call.”
Thursday, the Job Corps will hold a blood drive and wrap up its anniversary week on Friday with a graduation ceremony.