AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A group of young men in Round Rock have some new skills under their belt, thanks to a nonprofit’s mechanics clinic.
The clinic took place Wednesday at Foundation Auto Repair in Round Rock. Organizers say it was designed to inspire “troubled youth to become part of a trade that has job openings” and advancement potential.
The young men who participated in the clinic are members of “Jail To Jobs.” The nonprofit run by Nineveh Ministries aims to break the cycle of youth recidivism.
Payton Wall, of Liberty Hill, was among those who participated.
“I could be out on the streets doing other mischievous things but instead I’m here doing hard work and doing something good for myself.” Wall smiled.
The clinic took place on Wall’s 20th birthday -- he celebrated the new year with a second chance.
“I had gotten in a little bit of trouble, like a year ago and had been going through the court system and all of that for several months and it ended up violating my probation and this was pretty much the last ditch effort before they wanted to give me time.” he said.
Wall said he “hit rock bottom” and contacted Eddie Franz, the director of Jail to Jobs. All staff members have been convicted of felonies, including Franz, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for drug distribution.
“The moment a kid sees that...There’s this instant connection that happens, we may not know everything about their story but we do know what it’s like to struggle. What it’s like to get out of a system and not have anybody.” Franz said.
Wall recalled calling Franz saying “I’m at rock bottom I don’t have a place to stay, and like got kicked out of my house and don’t have a job I really need and [Franz] said, I gotchu man, I got you.”
Working with Jail To Jobs, Wall has been able to secure employment. He has also able to test the waters in careers he’s interested in long-term -- like becoming a mechanic.
“This is just a bigger step in something new for me, something different, and I’d like to try it and keep going along this path if I could.” he said.
Eddie Franz’ sister, Kelly Belz is the vice president of Texas Enterprises, a Mobil 1 distributor -- they helped put on the clinic. Belz says they’re suffering as the trade school pipeline dries up, so the event was a win-win.
“Mechanics, plumbers, welders, we have a huge gap in the pipeline of new kids that are coming up that want to do those jobs,” Belz said. “And so, as the supply for these jobs go down, demand is going up tremendously as population grows. And, we’re trying to show some of these kids this can be a career.”