CORPUS CHRISTI – On Wednesday, Del Mar College in Corpus Christi celebrated the second graduating class for their Rebuild Texas Carpentry Skills Training Program.

The free 10-week program was created earlier this year to meet the demand for skilled workers in the construction industry and help area residents become qualified carpenters after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey hit the area two years ago.

“As you all know, Hurricane Harvey hit us two years ago, particularly here from Aransas County, Rockport-Fulton, Ingleside and Aransas Pass extremely hard,” DMC vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives Lenora Keas said. “I have to share the fact that I grew up in Rockport and Rockport is my heart and soul.

“I have family over there right now who have just finished their homes. So I personally know how important Rebuild Texas is to provide that workforce it’s needed so that this community can rebuild.”

Keas added that rebuilding is still going on in the surrounding counties and will be for a long time to come. She said she wanted to recognize the great efforts of city, as well as county, leadership also try to find employment for those who complete the program. All of the participants in the program’s first session, which concluded in July, were offered jobs.

The program is made possible by an $879,000 grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund, a collaborative project of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Foundation. According to the organization’s website, the Rebuild Texas Fund was launched to raise and deploy $100 million to communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

Classes are currently being held at locations in Rockport, Ingleside and DMC’s West Campus with program administrators anticipating adding two more locations in January 2020 in Sinton and Refugio.

For more information, call 361-698-2122 or visit delmar.edu/continuing-education/carpentry_training_program.html.

While it’s a great program for those looking to join a skilled workforce that’s much needed in the area, for some it’s a personal journey that set them to seek out the free classes.

Aransas Pass resident Lisa Schaar, who will graduate the program on Sept. 26 along with about 70 others, fought back tears as she shared her story with those in attendance.

“As for myself, I wanted to help people in need after Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes in the communities of Rockport and Aransas because my husband and myself also experience the loss of our home,” Schaar said.

Her and her husband lost their home to Harvey and spent the last two years bouncing around to neighbors and friends houses before enclosing the 12 by 16 foot porch of their home that remained after Harvey. It was the only thing that remained of their home.

Everything changed on May 3 of this year.

“I got a call from Home Owners Assistance Program and they said, ‘Congratulations, your application was accepted,’” Schaar continued.

“Less than two weeks ago on September 13, I received a set of  keys. We are so blessed to have a home built from the ground up.”

She said watching the construction workers build a home for her family in the heat of summer inspired her to pick up a hammer and learn the skills necessary to do the same.

“So I want to give a helping hand to somebody that needed it,” she said.

“And if you’re not sure you can do this, I’m 51 years old. I say go for it. This class is excellent for those who want to learn.

“I hope this program continues because Lenora Keas, (Arnold) Mendez and everyone who has worked really hard to answer so many calls so late at night. I hope you keep going and continuing this program for the future carpenters. 

“And I want to say I’m so proud of my class in Rockport, Texas.”

Paul Gonzales is the editor at the News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270 or at mathisnews@mySouTex.com.