A Maury County nonprofit organization is working to simultaneously help those in need of employment and others in need of repairs to their home in an effort to benefit the county as a whole.
Since 2008, Build & Learn Inc., has offered training programs in home building and renovation for citizens struggling to find work and offers the students’ services to veterans and disadvantaged citizens in need.
“We mostly focus on students who dropped out of school,” Program Director Quinton Jones said. “They can’t get into trade school or college.”
The courses offered by Build & Learn range from general maintenance to heavy equipment operations. The 12-week-long lessons teach groups ranging in size from four to eight students.
Jones is a former project developer for general contractor Hood Company, LLC and spent much of his time building low income housing in Nashville. He is also a former director of the Middle Tennessee Diversity Contractors Association. The Nashville-based organization consists of 150 members.
An educator at heart, Jones previously held a career as a middle school teacher and librarian.
“We want to bring attention to the disparities in society and try to provide help for individuals who can’t help themselves,” Jones said. “We get referrals from churches, the barbershop to local representatives.”
Last month, Build & Learn worked with Spring Hill Alderman Vincent Fuqua to repair the deteriorating floor of an elderly woman’s home.
Jones said projects typically take five to 12 weeks, during which the students are made job ready.
Before the program ends, many of its participants find work through the organization’s network of contractors.
This week, the Build & Learn team was dispatched to West Burt Drive in Columbia, where they assisted in painting the ceiling of 22-year veteran David David.
Due to one perforated disk and another bulged disk in his back, the former Air Force jet engine mechanic is unable to repaint the ceilings in his home. Jones and his fellow instructors were there to brush the toughest and highest corners of the house with precision.
“It’s great,” David said. “I found them through James Patterson of Maury County’s Veterans Service Office. I greatly appreciate it. Just read the license plate here in Tennessee, the Volunteer State.”
Jones said he particularly enjoys working with former servicemen and women.
“As a veteran myself, I like to help out some of my comrades in need,” Jones said. “I am just trying to do what I can to help as many veterans I can. We can do a lot more for the five percent of the population that protects us.”
Build & Learn typically conducts two projects every month, but Jones said he hopes to expand operations.
“We want to do more,” Jones said. “I want the community to know that if they are looking for a cause to support, this is one they can see directly where their contribution goes.”
He hopes the organization will gather enough funds to build a home for a family in need.
To contact Build & Learn visit http://buildlearn.org/ or email email@example.com.