PELL CITY -- There are 10 of them, and all of these women have something in common: They are single mothers who want a better life for themselves and their children.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity that would open up some doors,” said Shantyle Kelly, 28, of Odenville.
On Jan. 16, Kelly, along with nine other women, began class to become a certified welder at Jefferson State Community College in Pell City.
“We’ll have OSHA training, too,” Kelly said.
Kelly and the other women hope to earn their welding certification after completing the four-month course May 15.
“I’m hoping I can start applying for jobs as soon as I’m finished and have a job in a few weeks of completing this course,” said Britney O’Barr, 25, of Leeds, who is a stay-at-home mom. “I love this. I think it’s going to be a great career for me and my family.”
The welding certification program was made possible through a collaborative effort between the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, which paid for the tuition and books and provided a transportation stipend for each woman; Pell City First United Methodist Church, which provides lunches to the class on Wednesday; Jefferson State, which provides instruction and the facilities on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and finally, St. Clair County Head Start, which provides instruction for each participant’s children and hosts the single moms’ classroom instruction on Wednesdays. That instruction includes computer training, math, essential skills and more.
“This program serves both parents and children to help improve their quality of life,” said David Bobo, the director of community and media relations for Jefferson State. “While the moms are learning valuable job skills, their children are learning at the St. Clair County Head Start.”
He said the collaborative effort helps provide single mothers with skills for employment to help them move out from poverty or from the near poverty level.
“I could not do it without them (St. Clair County Head Start) keeping my child,” said Fabiana DeSouza, 39, of Argo.
She said she drops off her 3-year-old daughter at the Head Start before coming to welding classes. When classes end at 1:30 p.m., she goes back to the Head Start and picks her daughter up.
“I want to thank the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham for paying for the school,” DeSouza said.
She also plans to enter the workforce as a welder after she graduates in May.
Jefferson State welder instructor Danny Taylor said the women in the class are good students and are serious about what they are doing.
“They don’t miss classes and they are here on time,” Taylor said.
He said the students are engaged with what they are doing and are goal oriented.
“I would say every one of them wants to improve their lives and the lives of their children,” Taylor said.