ERIE, Pa. — When students of the Eagle’s Nest program complete their training, they will have a career opportunity waiting for them; but they know that unemployment still affects a number of their peers.
“What is the city doing to attract jobs?” asked a student during Mayor Joe Schember’s visit to the program Wednesday morning. “What kind of jobs?” inquired another student. Schember said he believes the tech industry has a promising future in Erie.
The career outlook for the program’s 15 students is also promising.
Just months ago, Mario Heidelberg, 23, found himself stuck in place where he felt unfulfilled. He quit his job in the food industry and applied to Eagle’s Nest.
Now, the Erie man is ready for the next stage of the program and the next stage of his life: a construction apprenticeship.
“I’m going to be a part of the general laborers union (Laborers’ International Union of North America). So, I’ll just be on the worksite getting things done, and helping out all of the other guys that are actually building the building.”
Heidelberg recognizes that value of the opportunity.
“A lot of African Americans in the community find themselves with no hope or seeing that they can’t achieve the goals that everyone else is achieving; and with this program or programs like this, it actually gives them that light.”
Schember said more work needs to be done to address the young adults’ concerns.
“I’m hoping this is like the beginning of a relationship I can have with these students who asked great questions,” he said. “Some of the questions we need to do some work on.”
Bishop Dwane Brock, chief executive officer of Eagle’s Nest Leadership Corp., founded the program in 2015. He said it instills hope in young adults by providing a pathway to careers.
“We’re excited for the opportunities,” said Brock. “It would seem that the mayor and the City of Erie have embraced the Eagle’s Nest program, because they see that it works.”
Schember said sometimes it works to simply listen.
“One of the most important things is (that) I need to build a relationship with people here on the east side, especially the minorities. They need to learn they can trust me and what I say is what I’ll do, and also that I’ll listen to them.”
Heidelberg added, “And with this program, you don’t get overlooked. They stand over your shoulder and they represent you, as well.”
Since its establishment, more than 200 students have gone through the program.
To learn more about the Eagle’s Nest program, click here.