BRYAN, TX — The Brazos County Detention Center continues its partnership with Blinn College and other resources to provide job training for inmates, as six men graduated Thursday from the jail's facility maintenance program. These individuals have now become equipped with job skills that will make them more competitive in the job market.
“I feel so overwhelmed and happy that they’re doing something like this to help people in need," commented Francis Alvarado, a Bryan resident who attended the small graduation ceremony on the detention center campus. "You know, I'm so very, very proud.”
Alvarado hadn’t seen her son Nicolas in approximately three months, since he entered custody. Now, not only was she able to embrace him, but she could applaud him for his new trade skills and professional certifications.
"I was always wondering, you know; how can somebody help [persons in custody] to become better in society, and for the community?" Alvarado remarked tearfully. "And this program is very good.”
For the past two years, Brazos County has offered this educational program to select inmates through partnerships with Blinn College and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service [TEEX]. Students learn skills such as plumbing, welding, HVAC, and electrical work. Now, they also have support and mentorship through Project Unity.
"We look for them, for employment," said Hector Ramos, Texas A&M educational psychology lecturer, and member of Project Unity who worked with the recent graduates. "So we have connections with hotels and hospitals because we do a variety of trainings. This one was facilities maintenance, so it was very open to a lot of jobs.”
Now that they’ve received 200 hours of instruction, completing different projects together, the new program graduates will soon be released from jail with greater prospects than they’d seen before. And community members like Nicolas Alvarado, will get a second chance at success.
“There are still going to be challenges," said Brazos County Sheriff Wayne Dicky, as he addressed the six men. "... Just remember that you’ve been through this. You went through this program, you were motivated, you were dedicated. And if you continue that same motivation and dedication upon your release, you’ll see the success that you want to see.”
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