On March 18th, NCO Building Homes, Building Lives (BHBL) graduated its 5th cohort of participants. In a small ceremony at NCO's Olympic Drive offices in Clearlake, the three graduates received a certificate of completion, letter of recommendation, power tools, and the highly-coveted BHBL sweatshirt.
Building Homes, Building Lives is a workforce development program that teaches Lake County residents facing unemployment or housing insecurity hard and soft skills in the construction field. Student workers recieve 300 hours of paid hands-on training and comprehensive mentoring under a licensed general contractor. Since it's launch in mid-2020, the program has served 15 student workers, and one-third of the graduates have gone on to secure full-time work.
Building Homes, Building Lives partners with NCO's New Digs Rapid Rehousing Program and with external partners to identify and remodel rentals for precariously housed or homeless residents, increasing access to safe and affordable housing in Lake County. In 2021, BHBL students helped remodel 14 unihabitable units and helped rehouse 16 families.
"Throughout the course, Cohort 5 worked hard to expand and improve housing capacity for vulnerable populations," said Derek Fiedler-Riddle, BHBL Project Coordinator. "As a result, they made Lake County a more beautiful and habitable place."
With the guidance of NCO's own Tony Browning, the graduates completed a Legacy Bench in front of the Olympic Office as their final project.
"The redwood bench serves as a testament to their lasting achievements and NCO's enduring commitment to the communities we serve," said Fiedler-Riddle. "We invite visitors to take a seat the next time they come to the Olympic Office."
"Thank you, NCO crew, for the support and the love along the way. We couldn't have done this without you,"
"Thank you to the entire NCO staff for the experiences, tools, and skills gained."
"Thanks for everything. You guys are great people and care a lot."
Building Homes, Building Lives Project Coordinator Derek Fielder-Riddle poses with Cohort 5 on the Legacy Bench.