By Bridget Duncan / Staff Writer
The 1980 LBCC Homecoming queen has started a paid on-the-job training program to give former prisoners a second chance.
Sylvia Burrough, who was a business major at the time, has worked in job development since she left LBCC starting Opportunity to Enter or Re-Enter the Work Environment in July 2010 To assist former prisoners with the paid on-the-job portion of the program, Burrough sought out professional athletes and celebrities. She also asks businesses to fill out her online survey to expand the number of businesses involved in the program at www.oerwe.org. “When you are a good person, what do you do? That’s where I step in,” Burrough said.
The program, which has aims to assess skill levels, educate, counsel and place people in dire situations in paid on-the-job training in local businesses, has been endorsed by Food For Less, The Los Angeles Probation Office, Farmers and Merchants Bank, LBCC American and African American history teacher Melvin Ross Jr., Greg Peterson, LBCC vice president of student support services, former Indianapolis Colts football player Chuck Miller, sports commentator Jim Hill and artist Benjamin Jackson among others.
Jackson said, “Her cause and what it is for, I’m for that.” Jackson will apprentice former inmates and be part of Burrough’s paid on-the-job training program. “I want to open myself up to teaching men and women make furniture and become renowned artists. We need to wake up and be our brother’s keeper,” Jackson said.
Dorri Komarek, employer services consultant at TelePayroll, also in attendance said, “My boss really likes to give back to the community and be a part of it,” TelePayroll is working with Burrough to process the paid on-the job-training that will help establish good credit for the participants and keep their cable and electricity bills paid without fees.
Hattie Herring, whose children attended school with Burrough’s children, said, “She’s taking a step with this program that should have been taken a while ago.” Herring said trade-tech classes were important to get a job and to channel former prisoners.
As Shelea’s CD played at the event, history teacher Ross said to remedy the problem of incarceration, black youth need a quality education, black and brown young men need to stay in school. The road to college or some type of skilled training and counseling is needed as well as federal funding of programs and activities in low-income areas.
A 49-year-old administration and social work LBCC student who has been incarcerated twice and who wished to stay anonymous said students should find out who they are so they can be part of something. “Don’t deprive yourself. California is good,” he said.
Former prisoners and business owners can call Burrough at (562) 552-5726.