A surprise phone call from Gov. John deJongh Jr. could help one of the territory’s more successful youth programs get even better.
DeJongh recently sat down with representatives from My Brother’s Workshop, a vocational program on St. Thomas that is run out of the St. Thomas Reformed Church by Scott Bradley, a retired mechanical engineer. The program works with young men between the ages of 16 and 24 and teaches them both work and life skills.
Also attending the meeting were Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr., Property and Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin-Maduro and Deputy Property and Procurement Commissioner Derek Gabriel, along with Bradley and members of the My Brother’s Workshop board of directors. The purpose of the impromptu meeting was to see where the two sides could collaborate, according to a press release from Government House.
“The governor wanted to know how he could help us grow, how he could get behind us and help get everything going for us,” Bradley said after the meeting. “He seemed very sincere, and we’re already seeing movement. We got a few calls and work is appearing, so he looks like he’s really on board.”
Local contractors come in to work with the young men, who get paid a stipend through the program, but work as volunteers on various private and community projects that put their skills to the test. Bradley has continued to campaign for more jobs and a building that the program could call its own.
“We’re already having people calling us about getting some work in the school system, and (the Department of Public Works) is going to work with us, and they’re talking about getting us a building so we can set up a real school,” Bradley said. “If we even get half of what they’re talking about, it would be a wonderful day for us.”
With the waiting list for the program continuing to grow, Bradley said that the new partnership with the government could help My Brother’s Workshop expand.
“We’re very pleased with this effort, and we’re very hopeful,” Bradley said. “We’re looking forward to a good partnership with the government.”
In a recent statement, deJongh expressed his support for the program, which he said “helps disadvantaged youths pave a pathway forward with a strong sense of community and personal focus.
“By involving trainees in community service projects, program participants develop a positive outlook and a renewed focus on the direction of their future,” deJongh said. “These goals are exactly in line with the efforts of my administration in challenging youth to embrace opportunities toward a life of promise and self-fulfillment. I compliment Scott Bradley and the organization’s staff and board on its efforts to help youth invest in themselves and address the needs of our neighborhoods.”