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Program in Kern County helps people get into workforce

"Today I have a job."
Recycling Lives
Posted at 9:40 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 02:41:57-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — ‘Recycling Lives’ is more than just a facility to recycle and repurpose glass. For Courtney Pumphrey, who says she is a recovering addict, this gave her purpose.

“My life is worth value, that I am worthy of being loved. That people care about me, and that anything I did in the past doesn’t matter anymore because today I’m clean, today I have a job and, today I have a future.”

The program helps people that have barriers to working, like those who have been incarcerated, are experiencing homelessness or have been out of the workforce, and trains them with job skills in warehouses. Also, on the social and emotional aspects of being in a workplace.

“This program really got me back out into the public life, the community, communicating with other people, and really started to build my confidence up. I really needed this program [to] like kind of just show me, the motivation to get up in the morning,” said participant Michael Allenmoore.

It’s truly a community in every sense. People work together, eat together, learn to drive forklifts, can drive tractors, and get soft skills to help them in future workplaces.

The program started back in July of 2021. It’s a 14-week long training and work period, and it’s currently in its third cohort.

Joe Turner, an instructor at Recycling Lives said people get certified to operate equipment, get help with their resumes, paid work experience and instructors to guide through this process.

“It makes me feel very, very good being involved with this program because you see the young adults come in with barriers, and they’re learning skills that are transitional to the workforce. Also, they’re building confidence and consistency.”

The training, in partnership with the Bakersfield Adult School, BARC, County of Kern, Kern Alliance of Business, is by recycling glass.

Logistics Teacher, Mike Mcleod, shows the process of how the machine works in the facility.

The glass can then be melted down and used in other glassware or even landscaping. The sand can be repurposed too, and these proceeds help fund recycle lives. “Anything made from this will go back into the program.”

On February 15, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved funding for a new tractor for the program to continue to train those who need it in our community.

“The glass provides an opportunity for the students that we have in our program to get real experience in a warehouse logistically,” said Turner.

Bettie Peoples turns 70 years old next year and she is grateful to the program for accepting her and giving her a chance to find a new career and hopes to give back in her own way.

“If I’m lucky, maybe I get to stick around and you know, maybe help some other people.”

Recycling lives says they are recruiting for their next cohort that starts by the end of March. To register you can email Suhey Perales at peraless@kerncounty.com or call (661) 336-6847.

The program will be from March 21, 2022 till June 30, 2022.