The Community Carpentry Academy Unit celebrated its first Philadelphia-wide at-risk youth promotion Monday night in South Philadelphia.
Guest speakers included Mayor Jim Kenney, Tiphanie White from the office of City Council Member Kenyatta Johnson and other community leaders.
“Today we are hosting the graduation ceremony for our woodworking academy,” said Anton Moore, President and Founder of Unity in the Community. “Seventeen students have completed our program for up to a year, so they will graduate having learned how to assemble kitchens, lay floors and hang doors, and other essential carpentry skills.”
Prior to the awards ceremony, Moore had shared that some of the young men who attended the carpentry academy were convicted of gun offenses and other crimes, but they have since turned their lives around. . The community carpentry academy unit provides an opportunity to keep these young men on track and employable.
Last summer, the community carpentry academy unit accepted its inaugural class. The program began on August 5, 2021. The one-year program taught young people the basics of carpentry, provided monthly student stipends, as well as mentorship, and organizers organized monthly trips and brought in various lecturers and talking to the young men.
“I hope this program and this ceremony leave behind a positive reflection, a positive feeling and a different outlook on life,” Moore said. “They can do anything if they put their mind to it, just as they try their best, learn a trade, go to school, but also realize that there is more to life than the things they ‘they see every day.’
The Unity in the Community Foundation has raised nearly $100,000 to make this program possible. Their carpentry program accepted young men between the ages of 15 and 19. Unlike most traditional trades and vocational programs that require participants to be 18 years or older.
In addition to receiving an award for completing the program, each graduate received a citation from Johnson’s office, flowers from Daily Dove Care and $350.
Moore thanked many supporters, sponsors and donors for their help.
“The City of Philadelphia, Ryan Boyer of the Building Trades, State Senator Anthony Williams, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, State Representative Jordan Harris, Fadwa Robinson of Daily Dove Care, Food for Your Soul, Mr. Potts and many others,” Moore says.
“Watching Anton put this together, I was really impressed,” said Youth Action executive director Anthony Phillips of Moore. “As an educator, I work in youth development and help students get into college and find jobs. While working in schools as an educator, I noticed that many of our young people are in need and want to do something other than go to university. And often there is no opportunity or exposure that provides students with something of that nature. So I accompanied Anton to help him think about this and I supported this initiative because I thought it was important that students really have the opportunity to do something that can allow them to make a nice career other than having to go to college.
Kenney said graduates learned valuable lifelong skills.
“We are proud of what you have accomplished,” the mayor told the graduates during his address. “And your families are very proud of you. You have accomplished something that will allow you to be independent in your life to work where you want to work, earn as much money as you want to earn legally, and really have the skills to fix your house. Do things for your friends. It’s just a wonderful thing.
“I’m from South Philly myself and I’m very proud to be from here,” Kenney said. “I also want to say a word about Anton Moore. I’ve never met such a selfless person in my life and he never asks for anything for himself – ever. And he’s always there in good and bad times. I say he is one of the best people I have met.
Graduate Kazief Hudgins said he was excited and eager to use what he learned.
“I want to use my skills that I learned to work in a big industry or a union,” he said.
The next Unity in the Community carpentry course is scheduled to start next month.