Seattle's PACT Dinner Highlights Real Opportunity for Apprentices
On October 5, the Seattle Vocational Institute’s (SVI) Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training (PACT) program http://sviweb.sccd.ctc.edu/p_pact.htm held its 13th Annual Dinner and Auction. The PACT program leads Washington in apprentice resources, placing students in ironwork, carpentry, and more. ECC President Denise Fairchild gave the keynote speech and the dinner, which honored 37 graduates, highlighting in particular the moving account of Student Speaker Randy Litch. Here's Randy Litch’s story:
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation for this program.
Due to some life changing events when I was 27, I began using drugs and became connected with the underground drug and crime scene. I was in and out of jail and prison until I was 36 and decided to make a real change when I was released after a 25-month sentence.
It has been through this program that I learned to really appreciate another chance to be successful and productive. I was told from the beginning that it would require hard work and dedication and that I was not a very good candidate, given my past performance and age.
Getting here was not easy, but with the support of the people involved in this program and my current employer giving me a another chance, I am on my way to a better life.
The truth is, I blew off many opportunities by getting involved with drugs and crime. Believe me when I tell you how much I appreciate their efforts and understand their frustration when I continuously violated my probation and quit showing up for work.
With that said, this program and the incredible people who believed in me, when I didn’t really believe in myself, helped me gain the confidence to try one more time and succeed. With the advice of Ari Kahn who told me about the PACT program and the fact that in the interview I had to tell some hard truths about myself, I felt accepted and really wanted to try my best to prove I was better than my past behavior.
I made the orientation, tested within the following days and passed the drug screening test. I thought there would be no problems and I could just make par and enter the program without a hitch. Then I met with Steve Woods and was told I was not the candidate they were looking for but they were going to give me a chance. Honestly. I felt crushed and thought I had wasted my time and theirs.
We learned to be a team and everyone mattered. If anyone failed, it felt like we all failed. for the first time, it wasn’t just about me anymore. It was what community and support for others is all about, and that is truly what this program offers to everyone.
I never believed I would make it into the program with only 18 of 30 candidates being chosen. Then Steve Woods said “congratulations” and that I never would have made it if I hadn’t done exactly what I did.
He challenged me, made me believe and prove myself, always expected more and continued testing me. I realized I could make it, even coming up from the depths of my past behavior. I really wanted everyone to know they were not wasting their time on me and I cared about that.
By the end of the year, we had acquired several certificates. We studied all year and took the compass test at Seattle Central Community College. We created our own resumes including every certificate with cover letter in stapled packets. None of this would have been possible without this astounding program and all of the people involved. All of this brings me to this moment.
My previous employer turned me away several times because of my past performance with them until I presented to them all of the certificates I received from SVI. They rehired me upon completion of this program and gave me another chance. Within a short period of time I was put in charge of the swing shift and had earned their trust.
Yes, we make mistakes, and yes, we let other people down, but sometimes we do need another chance. No one should give up on themselves or on others. That is what this program gave to me.