The new facility which houses our vocational training programs has been named by the Board of Directors, the John H. Allen Vocational Training and Career Center. Mr. Allen is Vice President of Operations for Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services, and he, along with President/CEO Terrel J. DeVille, was on hand to witness the celebration of a longtime dream of theirs coming true. Construction of the facility was completed in late July, enabling the programs to start out the school year in the new buildings.
On October 5, a Grand Opening and Dedication service was held to commemorate the occasion. The implementation of this program is the culmination of the efforts of a great many individuals. Mr. DeVille welcomed and recognized many of those (some present, some were not) who were instrumental in obtaining funding to operate the program including Representatives Hollis Downs, Jim Fannin, Rick Gallot, and Senators Robert Kostelka and Mike Walsworth. He also thanked all who have made private donations to help construct the facility.
Several families who have donated money towards building and furnishing the facility were in attendance. As upwards of 100 people gathered to celebrate the completion of the project and to formally dedicate the buildings, a common theme was evident. Most would agree that the old adage “Give and man a fish; feed him for a day, teach him to fish; feed him for a lifetime” is applicable to these new programs.
Director of Pastoral Care, Bro. Mickey Stringfield opened the ceremony with prayer. Following the opening prayer, Rev. Bob Burgess, Monroe District Superintendent made a formal declaration of the building. Rick Sutton, Principal of Howard School then led a responsive reading with those in attendance, after which Chairman of the Board of Directors Richard Lewis presented the building to Bishop William Hutchinson. Bishop Hutchinson responded with a Dedicatory Litany. A benediction was given by Rev. Jerry Hilbun, Sr. Pastor of Trinity UMC, Ruston.
In an interview with KTVE, Mr. John Allen, for whom the building is named, explained this all came about because of a desire to help youth be able to support and care for themselves once they turn 18 and must leave the care of the Home. It was a huge concern for Allen and DeVille to know that they were at the helm of an organization that could only legally care for these children up to a certain age.
Allen said “The ability to provide our youth with the opportunity to train and to learn a skill that will help them to obtain employment once they leave our Home is so important.” The new training programs teach the youth important life skills such as how to act with others in the work force, the responsibility that comes with having a job, and of course the actual skills unique to the program they are enrolled in.
The programs offered at the training center are Barbering, Carpentry and Welding. The youth who participate are also enrolled in the GED program facilitated by Howard Education Center, the alternative school of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home.