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A Changed Life

Workforce Development graduate honored for turning life around

Western Manitoba Production Supervisor James Greene, Pastor Charles Walker, Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Heather Gresham, Honoree Jerome Hearn, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Erie 1 BOCES Workforce Development Sr. Supervisor Patricia Riegle and Director Christa McHale.New York natives often estimate 20 minutes to drive anywhere adjacent to the City of Buffalo. Therefore, you can imagine the dedication and patience required of an individual to travel nearly two hours from Buffalo to Lancaster every day.

Jerome Hearn, who takes three busses and one train to reach Lancaster every morning, is proud of this commute. No, he is not an environmentalist or Amish. Hearn is a proud employee of Manitoba Corp.

“I had to change myself,” 43-year-old Hearn commented when reflecting on his past indiscretions.

Change he did. After meeting Pastor Charles Walker, manager of the Back to Basics Re-Entry program, Hearn received sponsorship from the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board to attend a Certified Production Technician program taught by Erie 1 BOCES Adult Workforce Development.

“I liked the variety,” Hearn continued. “It really wasn’t hard for me. I just had to concentrate and be committed to going to school. I understood mechanics but lacked the certification for employment. Now, I’m certified in CPT (Certified Production Technician) plus more.”

After completing the three-month training program, Hearn was ready to take on a new career. He earned his National Work Readiness Credential, National Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Credential and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10 for General Industry.

Manitoba Corp., a processor of non-ferrous scrap metals, hired Hearn as a temporary employee in August. He became a full-time general laborer this January. He enjoys the job and the continual learning.

“I’ve been working up to more complex jobs; I’m looking forward to operating the heavy equipment and possibly automation next,” Hearn added.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz recently recognized Hearn for his perseverance, accomplishments and modeling success for other young men following incarceration. Choking back the tears, Hearn said all he wanted was to make his family proud, especially his mother who currently resides in Georgia.

“Once I save up enough money, I look forward to visiting my family in Georgia and Colorado,” Hearn added. “My journey made me realize what was important. It took me 43 years and I am still learning. I just hope someone gets something out of my story.”

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