Apprenticeship program teaches local inmates carpentry, life skills

Apprenticeship program teaches local inmates carpentry, life skills

A program at the Geiger Correctional Facility is giving inmates hands-on training in construction, while teaching the men skills to help them in life.

Right now, the group is working on remodeling a home that was meant to be demolished by the city. The owners of the home approached directors of the program to see if they could get the home back in good condition.

“The house was ready to actually be torn down by the city unless some significant remodeling was done,” said Mike Ankne, the director of the apprenticeship program.

The class runs six weeks, teaching basic skills training. Inmates can then use those skills when they leave Geiger and hopefully get their lives in the right direction.

“If you just don’t have hardly any job skills, we all have flaggers cards now, we all have an OSHA 10 certification, we all have CPR cards and we all have a class 7 forklift certification,” said Michael Aschenbach, an inmate in the program.

But, the program teaches more than just construction skills. Instructors tell their life stories and give the men tips on how to handle situations and life outside of prison.

“I get to come in and share my knowledge and my skill that I’ve gained over many years, since the early 90s, with these guys and then also my life experiences. It’s not just about construction, it’s about life skills and making the next right choice,” said Jesse Wharton, an instructor in the program.

Plus, the men know when they leave Geiger, they won’t be alone in the world.

“It’s a huge relief to know that, not only do I have a better improved skill set, an up-to-date resume, a job interview skills, but I have not just one guy or two guys, but I have a community behind me,” Aschenbach said.

The program has seen great success. Directors say in the last two years, they have helped 50 inmates, and only three have returned to prison.

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