ATLANTIC CITY — Applause, laughter and tears of joy greeted 18 residents inside the Atlantic City Police Athletic League building Friday morning during their graduation from a job training program.
The residents, ages 18 to 40, completed a 12-week program created by Friends in Action, a local, community centered nonprofit organization that aims to improve the community, in cooperation with Jingoli Power and Atlantic City Electric.
Together, the three organizations are working to provide Atlantic City residents with more work opportunities, develop the city’s workforce and change the resort for the better.
“This program was the first thing I’ve taken seriously in my life,” said Thomas Chappell, one of the program’s 18 graduates. Speaking to the audience, Chappell became choked up and needed a minute to collect himself.
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said the program was helping residents when they need it most.
“Understanding what’s happening during this worldwide pandemic, this program is giving the people of Atlantic City a better opportunity,” Small said.
Small said the partnership program was a great way for Atlantic City residents to “get outside the box jobs” and “bring new industries to Atlantic City.”
One of those projects generating jobs is Atlantic City Electric’s Atlantic City/Brigantine Community Reliability Project, also known as Harbor Beach, which seeks to modernize the local energy infrastructure connecting Atlantic City and Brigantine. The project’s goal is to replace existing substations and rebuild two critical transmission lines that will create a stronger, more resilient energy grid to reduce the impacts of powerful storms.
Through Jingoli Power’s Competitive Edge Program, young adults are trained and hired to work in the Atlantic City area as part of the Harbor Beach project.
Jingoli Power will also pay them a weekly stipend for various positions supporting the project including professional interns, administrative personnel and craft apprentices.
“The difference between a job and a career is that when you have a job, you need your employer,” said Joseph Jingoli, chief executive officer of Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc. “With a career, your employer needs you.”
All 18 of the Friends in Action’s program graduates learned skills that will give them opportunities in the construction, electricity and carpentry trades. They will also have other opportunities to work in local unions and other industries.
Aside from that, each graduate has earned numerous certifications.
Program graduate Natasha Hannon, 25, said during the ceremony that the program was “an amazing and unique experience” that would prepare her for whatever goals she wanted to accomplish in the future.
“The opportunity Mr. Jingoli has provided to Atlantic City residents is like no other,” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Latoya Dunston. “I can see Atlantic City with a bunch of residents that have careers, not jobs, in the future.”
This Friends in Action program is in its third year of providing training to residents, and plans to do more. Although the program mainly relies on word-of-mouth promotion, people interested in participating or partnering with the program can contact Dunston, or visit the Friends in Action Inc. building on 2715 Arctic Ave. in Atlantic City.