About a year ago, the 55-year-old Baltimore resident was working two part-time jobs, struggling to make ends meet and living without medical insurance.
“I was literally living week to week,” Harmon said. “I definitely needed a living wage, because I was dying.”
Harmon found Civic Works and its B’more Green program, a green job-training program designed to prepare unemployed or underemployed Baltimore residents for entry-level careers in the field of environmental technology.
After a seven-week training course that involved 40 class hours a week and “a lot of reading” earlier this year, Harmon became the first employee of Urban Green Environmental LLC, a small green Baltimore company. Harmon works as a field technician, performing environmental site analysis.
“I love my job,” Harmon said. “As the company grows, I’m going to grow.”
Since 2001, B’More Green has trained 165 participants such as Harmon. The program graduated 136 out of 165 enrollees, and 122 graduates were employed following graduation.
The average hourly wage for an employed B’More Green graduate is between $12 and $16 per hour, said John Mello, the program’s supervisor.
B’More Green held two seven-week training courses this year and plans to hold two courses in 2009. The courses have 10 to 20 participants and are run by accredited trainers, Mello said.
“It’s to give residents an idea of what they need to get a job and what they can expect,” Mello said. “When they leave us, they’ve got a heavy envelope of certifications.”
It’s stories like Harmon’s that motivate Mello.
“It’s the only reason I do this,” Mello said. “When you’re able to have a positive impact on someone’s life, it makes it all worth it.”
For Andrew's interview with Shannon Darrow, field director of Environment Maryland, click here.