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Technician training program helps participant become leader

Aug 20, 2023Aug 20, 2023

Eight months ago, Justin Dodd was living at a Salvation Army in Louisiana with his two daughters. Today, he is an apprentice automotive service technician at Banner Chevrolet in New Orleans and has a new home of his own.

Dodd, 41, became homeless after resigning from his previous job managing contracted sanitation crews at food processing plants. He left, he said, because he and his daughters, ages 8 and 13, had grown tired of moving to a new city every time one contract ended and a new one started.

Looking for new opportunities, he heard about the apprentice training program from two Urban League of Louisiana representatives. He was initially told no slots were open, but he persisted, and a spot opened up.

Dodd had more work experience than some others in the program, and he leveraged it to advise his classmates.

"It gave me a chance to stand out as a leader," he said. "A lot of these guys were lost and confused. I knew where they were coming from."

While Dodd loves his job at Banner Chevrolet, he has bigger dreams. The dealership's service department works on all vehicle makes and models, giving him valuable experience.

"This puts me in the position to start my own shop," he said.

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