A residential job-training program in Montgomery County is helping troubled teens find their way.
Nick Whitehurst would not have pictured working a chicken coop in his future seven months ago. The 18-year old was homeless and just going out to survive, he said.
He had been arrested several times already when he was finally referred to the residential job-training program called Our House.
Many of the young men between the ages of 16 and 20 admit similar backgrounds.
“I was stealing cars, breaking into houses, robbing stores,” said Brian Starcher.
At Our House, they learn construction and gardening and take high school classes on six nights a week. The program also provides counseling and therapy.
Richard Bienvenue, known as Benny, started the project 18 years ago.
“Somebody has to step forward and help these kids somebody has to do that,” he said.
The men stay an average of one year at our house, learning a trade and earning their high school diploma.
“It makes them feel good about themselves, makes them feel that they can be successful,” Bienvenue said.
Every construction project the young men work on is for a non-profit, such as the concession stand they’re building for the Boys and Girls Club of Olney.
On Saturdays, they perform community service, like highway cleanup or working with seniors.
Beyond helping the community, the program helps the men regain their own future. Resident Eric Greene plans to build his own barber shop with the experience and training he received at the program.