HAMMOND- The craft training that students get at Northshore Technical Community College is hands-on, full of troubleshooting and turning out talented, needed skilled workers every semester.
But following the Northshore's double-dose of flood disasters this year, the school got a grant to offer that expertise to the recovering community for free.
"A lot of people don't have very deep pockets so they have to do a lot of this stuff by themselves," said Greg Wilson, an electrical technologies instructor, "They don't know anything about it, so anything that they can learn from us can certainly help out."
The lessons have ranged from sheetrocking to tile work, and painting to power tools. They're held on weekends and at campuses in Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes. So far, there have been 45 classes with more than 300 attendees. Some are as young as 12 and as old as 78. And some came from out-of-state; non-flood victims just coming in to learn how to help the community recover as volunteers.
Robert resident Sonia Landry, who had two feet of water in her home, has taken every class she could.
"We're probably half-way there," she said. "Walls are up, they're textured, they're painted and we're working on kitchen cabinets."
Other participants say the classes helped them start work on their own, while waiting for contractors or the money to pay for professionals.
"We're very fortunate we had insurance," said Ponchatoula flood victim Ralf LeSaicherre, "I can understand where most folks don't have insurance, it's much more of a burden, so these kind of things come in handy."
It's a hand-up from "neighbors helping neighbors," bringing hope to a community still clawing its way back to normalcy.
There are ten "Be Your Own Workforce" classes being held this weekend at both campuses. More are scheduled for next month. Anyone is welcome to just show up, but registering is appreciated.
Here's the link for class details and locations: http://northshorecollege.edu/content/beyourownworkforce