Sustainability Institutue: Getting Back on Track

Beverly Gadson-Birch (middle) with the Sustainability Institute Young Adult Class

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

This is a follow up to last week’s article dealing with black folk “getting back on track”.

Have you ever seen a derailed train? It’s not a pretty sight. Depending on the severity of the derailment, it can be a scattered, mangled mess. It’s physically impossible for men to return it to its upright position without the assistance of a crane, lifter, re-railer or multiple jacks if the train is not all the way off the track. In other words, it is a process depending on the severity of the derailment.

Men, working together with their combined strength, can return an overturned automobile to its upright position but not a box car. Although, we have a “train derailment” problem in the Black community that we can’t seem to fix, let’s begin with the “overturned auto” problem, something we can fix.

Although we have large problems like the train, we may not be able to set a derailed train back on track. However, using our combined strengths, we can set an overturned auto upright.

Once we set the auto upright, we can move forward together in numbers and knowledge using a process to set the derailed boxcars back on track. Are y’all with me?

There are solutions to getting back on track, one step at a time, using a process. I ran across one solution last Friday. Even before last Friday, I had heard about the Sustainability Institute under the leadership of Rev. Laurence Bratton, Pastor of Bibleway Baptist Church. Pastoring is just one of many hats Rev. Bratton wears in the community.

Rev. Bratton serves as Vice-Chair of the Interdeonomination Ministers Alliance, Third Vice-President Charleston Branch of the NAACP and Social Justice Advocate & Green Job Coach for Energy Conservation with the Sustainability Institute.

While folks continue to talk about they don’t have time to get involved or they have too much on their plates (must be talking about food; can’t be talking about community service), Rev. Bratton seems to have found a way to juggle between his many obligations and is effective at what he does. He knows how to achieve results. The proof is over at the Sustainability Institute.

Rewinding to last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit the Sustainability Institute on Meeting Street and was in awe at what’s going on there. I was there to share my experience with the group as a successful Heating and Air Business owner for 30 years. As the young men sat around the table and shared their stories and work experience with the Institute, I also shared my story. The thing that stood out among them were they were all clean cut young men, eager to learn and move on with their lives.

According to the Sustainability Institute’s website, they have a program for Veterans and At Risk Young Adults. They offer classroom, on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities with local businesses. The ECC (Energy Conservation Corp) is a nationally recognized and Award winning program.

The Sustainability Institute is just one way to get the train back on the track. They serve young men and women, veterans and non-veterans and have a 94% job placement rate.

There is a story everywhere and redeeming value in everyone. As I sat talking with the young men, I noticed a very striking picture on the wall that I later learned was Ladine Daniels, JR. I did not know JR, who passed away a couple of years ago, but I know his parents Deacon Ladine and Rev. Rossilind Daniels of Charity Missionary Baptist Church. What a coincidence I thought. I am a member of Charity. Don’t tell me one person can’t make a difference.

As JR’s story goes, he mentored at the Sustainability Institute and during a chance encounter at the jail passed the Institute’s business card along to an inmate. The inmate got out, left town and could not get it together. He pulled out JR’s card, returned to Charleston and is now working with the group. Are y’all following me? It’s just that simple.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to help someone get their life back on track. Neither do you have to be the brightest star in the Zodiac to shine. All it takes is a spark to light up someone’s life. That is what the Sustainability Institute offers young men and women who may have been derailed by life and just need some help getting back on track. You may not be able to get the train back on track without a crane but you sure as heck can band with others and get the auto upright again.

Let’s get the auto upright again and then move on to the train. Are y’all with me?

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